Ruth McLaughlin is worried her Sun City neighborhood has a problem with roof rats.

“We have an infestation over here,” she said of her neighborhood near Peoria Avenue and Clair Drive.

McLaughlin and her husband, John, saw a rat several weeks ago near their home in the early morning, and killed another rat, or maybe the same one, with a shovel over Fourth of July weekend.

“I have plants up around my house, I’ve been moving them away,” McLaughlin said, explaining the plants could be attractive to the rats. “You can see we have trees and some of them hang close to the house.”

McLaughlin wants to alert her neighbors to the issue and possibly work out a deal with an exterminator to put traps throughout the yards within her condominium association.

Many residents are not around during the summer, or they don’t often see their neighbors because of the heat, but after asking around, McLaughlin said she learned several of her other neighbors had encountered and killed rats.

McLaughlin gathered some of her neighbors in her living room Wednesday morning to talk with an inspector from an extermination company, Truly Nolen, to learn more about the pests and what they can do to prevent them.

“The first line of attack is sealing up your home,” said Jeff Cressey, a pest and termite specialist for Truly Nolen. Sealing a home can involve screening off dryer vents, drain vents or holes in attics because rats can fit themselves into an area the size of a quarter.

“They are always going to be out there, there’s really no way to really exterminate roof rats,” Cressey said, who said it is possible to bring the number down to “an acceptable level.”

The McLaughlins have already started a program with Truly Nolen to trap the rats and seal off their home.

“We’re in the process of trying to screen them away from the house,” McLaughlin said, adding the traps in her yard have already caught one rat.

Cressey advised the neighbors not to use baits and poisons that could draw more rats and are often ineffective, since rats can eat cactus to rid themselves of the poison.

“Every situation is different,” Cressey said.

For more information, visit http://www.trulynolen.com or the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department website at http://www.maricopa.gov/EnvSvc/ or call 602-506-6616.

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