In July of 2016 we began to hear reports from customers that rats had appeared in their neighborhoods. Often these people had never seen rats there at all.
Stoneham has had several road and utility construction projects running. Construction drives rodents from where they normally hang out to new areas without annoying construction activities.
I have not read up on research into suburban rodent control, but there are several factors to consider. People feed birds like never before. The birds do not get all of this material. There are accounts of rodent control service technicians finding rat colonies beneath bird feeders. There seem to be more pets around. Bulk storage of pet food can draw rodents. Pets are rarely left off leash, so no more dogs and cats doing their part for rodent control in the neighborhood. While we do have coyotes and raptors around, they have plenty to eat with squirrels, chipmunks, and other prey animals. There appears to be more than they can handle. Poisons traditionally used for rodent control have changed. See my comments below. I don't know what the numbers are, but I offer that rodents have developed some tolerance to available poisons and have multiplied as a result.
A few words about rat control if you haven't dealt with rats over the past few years.
The Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA, a federal agency) controls rodenticides and their use. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (massDEP) also controls rat and mouse killers in the Commonwealth.
The EPA mandated changes in rodenticides some years back. The very effective modern poisons were taken off the retail market. They may still be available for commercial and agricultural use. The forms and distributions of rat and mouse point have also changed.
The traditional d-Con (tm) brand products utilizing open bait trays, cardboard wedges of treated seed, and throw-packs of poison were for the most part taken off the market. In their place are new products with controlled packaging and active ingredients that may work more slowly than traditional ones. The days of "one and done" poisons where rodents fed once and died are gone. It may take several feedings before rodents are controlled, which means you have to keep feeding them until they "stop feeding."
Many rat and mouse poisons are offered in one-use plastic containers. The rodent feeds until the unit is empty. You dispose of the empty container and place another one.
There are blocks of poison bait for use in plastic feeding stations. You might have seen these in the bushes around restaurants and commercial buildings. The station protects the bait from the weather and ensures that children and non-target animals do not take the poison bait. Please check out the Rodent Cafe Bait Station, our stock number 187481. This look very much like the units used by professional pest control companies that charge hundreds of dollars to place and service. Do it yourself and save.
Many of the rat and mouse formulas and dispensing systems are designed to minimize the danger to children and non-target animals, including animals that might feed on poisoned rodents in the wild such as protected raptors.
The big divisions in the business of controlling rodents are retail sales, commercial services, and agricultural control. You will see products offered for all these product divisions on the internet. It will be confusing and frustrating as much of the material you might want to use is restricted to licensed professional pest control technicians and agricultural industry farmers. You can see but you can not buy.
At Round's True Value Hardware, we offer pest control products approved for use by our normal retail customers. We do not supply commercial pest control companies, nor are we an agricultural supplier. This means we can't purchase the "powerful" stuff for you, either. The web sellers should not sell it to you and may be violating the law.
On trapping rats. Round's True Value sells the traditional "snap" type rat traps. The general practice is to set these with cat food, bacon or peanut butter. Rats can be wary of changes in their environment, so you might try baiting un-set traps to have the animals associate the trap with food. You might also wire the trap so an animal will not drag it away. Squirrels and chipmunks might also trigger the trap. Look online for suggested methods.
Round's also has a number of plastic snap traps with variations on the simple wood board snap trap. Some of these make it easy and safer to set. We also stock electronic traps such as the Rat Zapper or the Ratinator. These traps can run up to $80, but offer quick kills and easy resets.
Havahart <tm> "catch'em alive" traps? We do stock them. They do work. There is a "Rat-sized" trap. What do you do with a trapped, live rat? We don't know for sure, but we do know that rats will travel a short distance, so you'd have to release it far away. Then again, a rat is a wild animal, and in Massachusetts it is illegal to transport wild animals without a license.
Please come down to the store and we'd be happy to show you what we have.
Rats in Stoneham.