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Maryann writes,

What can I do to get rid of an outdoor rat problem?

I have been battling an outdoor rat problem for some time now. The problem is in my front yard, and I live in a row of town houses. I believe the problem is coming from under my neighbors deck. They have a lot of clutter and garbage. I've called the NYC Department of Health, and they have come out a few times but done nothing. In May, I purchased three bait boxes and filled them with Contac blox and Fastrac blox. I also (with the neighbor's permission) threw some poison under their deck into the burrows. Over the next few days, we found about seven dead rats. I thought the problem was over. I have not seen any more dead rats since, but the bait goes missing. Could they not be dying? Dying elsewhere? Could there be so many rats that the problem isn't resolved six months later? Last night, I heard some banging around outside. I looked out my window, and I saw what seemed to me a HUGE rat with it's head in the bait box. It was trying to get its body in but couldn't. It just kept moving the box around. When it finally gave up it, it walked across my front yard and activated my motion light. I could see more clearly, but I couldn't see its face. This was bigger than any rat I have ever seen, and it had a very long, hairless tail dragging. It was brown, the size of a cat, fat and was waddling. Could this have been a rat? I live in NYC, there isn't much wild life here. I'm not sure what else to do or if anything can be done about my rat problem. This is very nerve wracking coming home after dark and wondering if you're going to spot a rat.


You are on the right track, but you may need to put out more bait boxes in more locations around your property. Once the rat eats the bait, they will usually be dead in 1-5 days depending on which bait they ate and how much of the bait they ate.Rats will die wherever they succumb to the bait which may or may not be in a visible area. Be sure to keep the bait boxes filled with fresh bait for best results. And yes, you could potentially have a rat population so large that it takes many, many months to get rid of them. Another explanation of course is that nothing has been done in the way of cleaning up your neighbors property, so new rats keep moving in to take over the space left behind by the rats that you have already eliminated. As for the huge "rat" that is the size of a cat that could not fit into the bait box? This was most likely an opossum. Rat bait boxes are made so that larger animals like raccoons and opossums cannot fit inside of it to avoid accidental poisoning of non-target animals.

Answer last updated on: 11/09/2010

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