A manicured lawn keeps the rats away - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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A manicured lawn keeps the rats away

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Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 6:00 pm

It's a problem every year for residents of Arcadia, but Ahwatukee Foothills residents may also want to be aware of rodents like roof rats spotted in the area.

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio sent out a message recently warning people of the prevalence of roof rats in Phoenix and giving residents some sources to look to in case they notice some rats on their property. DiCiccio's office has received reports of possible roof rats in Ahwatukee Foothills.

David Guerrieri, field supervisor for Vector Control of Maricopa County, said his office has only received one report of roof rats in Ahwatukee this year but there may have been others that just weren't reported to their office.

Vector Control will respond to calls about roof rats because they are pests that are not native to North America. The department tries to keep track of reports of roof rats to keep them under control. He said in Ahwatukee, residents often complain about pack rats, which are native, so Vector Control cannot help get rid of them. Still, pack rats can be just as much of a pest as roof rats and require the same steps from residents to be rid of them.

Guerrieri suggests keeping a carefully manicured lawn and removing citrus fruit or dog food from the ground that rats may feed on.

"They're mostly a nuisance pest," Guerrieri said. "They get into the attics and chew wires, they make holes. The best way to get rid of roof rats is just clean up the property. Put away their food source. A lot of people like to put out bird feeders for birds and the pack rats will go after the bird feeders. A lot of people feed dogs outside and the rats will go after that, too. I suggest that after you let the dogs eat you pick that food up."

Guerrieri said there are many different types of baits and poisons that can be used to get rid of rats but he suggests using traps rather than poison to deal with the problem.

"There are baits and stuff out there that residents can use but I really caution that they should be used in a professional manner," Guerrieri said. "Some of them are highly toxic. The chances of a non-targeted species or children getting a hold of those things is high."

The main difference between roof rats and pack rats are in their color and their tail. Pack rats are usually gray or brown with a lighter belly and feet. Their tail is about the same size as their body and head. A roof rat has a much longer tail and a pointed nose. They're usually dark brown or black.

Signs of roof rats may include sounds in the attic, hollowed out citrus or smudges near the rafter of a house from dirt and oil being rubbed off their fur as they travel.

Maricopa County Vector Control will pick up live captured roof rats when staffing allows. To file a complaint of roof rats with Vector Control, call (602) 506-6616 or visit their website at http://www.maricopa.gov/EnvSvc/VectorControl/. Arcadia's Neighbor to Neighbor Campaign also has some good tips for dealing with roof rats, at roofrats.net.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com




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