BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rats! We’re starting to see more of them in Western New York. Some of them can be as much as a foot long. Experts say the warm winter weather and ongoing drought is to blame.
Peter Tripi, Senior Health Sanatarian with the Erie Co. Department of Health, said, “There’s no doubt that after this warm winter that we have seen a significant increase in the rat population.”
Tripi says the warm weather prevented nature performing natural selection, and to top it off, the drought is stressing the high population of rats, causing them to come out during daylight hours in order to survive.
“On average a rat will travel 150 feet circumference, but what we are seeing now and according to the data, they’re traveling 3, 4, or 500 feet to find water or food.”
Tripi says your best defense is to remove any sources of food or water on your property. Especially things like dog or cat food.
“Sometimes if you do some of the things that we ask, like checking your own property, or picking up the food sources like fallen fruit, you don’t give them a reason to want to be there, they will go somewhere else to live.”
Patrick Cullinan of Lancaster says he never saw rats on his property before. Most recently he came face to face with one when he went to use his grill.
He says the Erie County Department of Health came out to install bait traps after he brought the issue up to a village trustee William Schroeder Cullinan says he doesn’t want his girlfriend’s daughter to get bit when she’s playing out back.
Cullinan said, “They are not a very clean animal, so having the fear of having that in our backyard is not good.”
Tripi said. “The County, the Department of Health, and our Vector Control Program is doing a great job on fighting this battle, we plan on winning it. But we do really need the public to help us, we need them to do what we ask, when we ask, and we need them to check their own yards even before they have a problem.”
For more information on how to deter rats and rodents, more information is available from the Erie County Department of Health – Rabies, Disease & Vector Control Program, go to: http://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=rats