The Ahwatukee Board of Management is waging an all-out war against roof rats, which are appearing in its subdivisions in record numbers.
“The sightings are literally all over the community and extend to communities to the south of Ahwatukee,” said ABM’s assistant general manager.
Nearly 100 homeowners turned out for an ABM-sponsored presentation Feb. 8 by Barry “The Roof Rat Guy” Paceley, who became an expert on the rodents for Maricopa County’s Vector Control Department when he discovered the critters in his backyard in Arcadia shortly after they made their appearance in the Valley around 2002.
The rats are drawn to food and water and are especially prevalent this time of year because they gnaw on fruit in backyards to get water.
But they can gnaw through the roof or walls, eating practically everything in sight, Paceley said.
“The most outrageous story we’ve heard is a homeowner that had a brand new car parked on the driveway was subjected to $2,000 worth of damage from rats gnawing on the engine wiring,” Young said. “That was not something covered by warranty.”
Young said that the problem seems worse this year than the last couple of years.
Paceley noted that it had been at least two years since he was last asked by ABM to give a presentation.
Young said ABM two years ago purchase 100 bait stations to give away to homeowners and that the demand this year is higher.
“Although we have some in inventory, the demand has probably tripled,” she said.
The cylindrical bait stations, which cost less than $20 at a hardware store, are among the best weapons to counteract the pests, Paceley said.
The rats will often eat that poison and even take some to their young in nests.
The nocturnal creatures are hard to spot even at night, Paceley told the crowd. That’s why it’s important to inspect the house and surrounding outside area for signs of droppings, gnawed pieces of fruit and possible damage to walls or the roof.
Paceley also said it was critical to ensure that even tiny hole or spaces in walls or near the roof must be sealed because the rats have no problem entering a home uninvited.
“The brick walls in your backyards are freeways for these rats,” he told the audience, noting they like to stay at least four feet above the ground when they move.
“Work with your neighbors,” Paceley said.
The advice prompted one homeowner to complain that he has talked to his neighbor about a potential roof rat problem on his property but that “he’s not interested in helping me out.”
Paceley advised him to bait the area on his side of the wall between the two properties so that any rat who decides to move in likely would die.
Paceley advised the group to follow his precautions, invest less than $100 in a few traps and not bother with hiring a pest control problem.
“The methods we used to fight them in 2002 are the same that you can use today,” he said. “Pest control companies are personnel-intensive so they’ll cost hundreds of dollars. I’m here to tell the community you can control this problem and it doesn’t cost a lot.”