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At Home: Rats! One pest problem spawns another

Marni Jameson addresses how to handle rats in your house.
BY MARNI JAMESON Published: November 12, 2012

He calls again. “Are you busy?” he asks.

“Yes. Thank you. All my critter problems are solved.” Click.

He calls right back. “I was just wondering if you would like to have coffee some time?”

“Well, I can't.” Click.

Rats are creepy enough, but what they drag with them is worse. “Rats carry diseases, which they can spread through bites, feces and urine. If they get in your food, they'll contaminate it,” says Stoy Hedges, an entomologist for Terminix, the world's largest pest control provider.

Big storms, like Sandy, which hit the East Coast last month, often displace rats, and cause them to look for new homes, Hedges said. “Rats are born survivors and will readily move to better conditions to find food and a place to live. In cities, that's provided by homes and businesses.”

To keep pests from taking up residence in your home or business, Terminix offers these tips:

Look for and seal gaps around pipes, especially under sinks. Cover openings with duct tape.

Weatherstrip doors and windows.

Keep food put away, and lids on trash cans.

Line all attic and foundation vents with tightfitting, quarter-inch hardware cloth. A regular insect screen will not deter rodents.

Move piles of debris away from your home. These provide welcome shelter for critters.

Keep tree branches trimmed so they stay six feet away from roofs and walls. Rodents are great climbers and acrobats.

If you see or suspect a rat, clean and disinfect. Throw away all food that may have come into contact with the rat. Use strong cleaners to sanitize.

Call a professional pest control service and ask if they handle rodents.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through


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