In contrast to Stonington, Westerly hasn’t had too many problems with rats

In contrast to Stonington, Westerly hasn’t had too many problems with rats

Record-Journal
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WESTERLY — Westerly is just across the Pawcatuck River Bridge, but it appears the town is having fewer problems with rats than Pawcatuck.

Westerly has had a small number of rat complaints to investigate since April, said James Broccoli, minimum housing officer for Westerly, Wednesday. “There has not been a major outcry for rat problems in Westerly.”

“It’s about six or seven complaints,” he said. “I think people are worried about it because of articles in The Sun.” He said he has cited two properties, but one was for a mice infestation. He said some unfounded calls also came in but he found no signs of rats in those instances.

In comparison, as of August 23, Pawcatuck has received about 25 to 30 complaints and issued five orders, some related to rats, some related to trash, according to Ryan McCammon, Supervisor of Environmental Health for Ledge Light Health District, which is Stonington’s health department.

The numbers are surprising since both towns are adjacent to the Pawcatuck River, which rat expert Robert Corrigan identified as a habitat for rats in a recent Sun article. Corrigan, of Briarcliff Manor, New York, runs RmC Pest Management in Richmond, Indiana, was a principal lecturer at the Rodent Control Academy, and has authored a book about rodent control for pest management professionals,

It isn’t clear why Westerly has had fewer rat complaints, but residents and business owners have been cooperative if rats or signs of rats were found on a property, said Broccoli, who started in his position in April.

“Where I do see it, everyone’s been on board,” he said. “The people from the town have been great about getting treatment and exterminators and doing what they need to do as property owners.”

Do the basics first

Working with neighbors on preventive measures is the best way to stop the problem, he said.

“What is important for everyone to remember are the basics to prevent [the rats] from coming to your house and neighborhood,” he wrote in an email. “Work with everyone in your house/apartment and together with your neighbors to prevent rodents. Do not provide rodents with the food and shelter they seek.”

Broccoli said it was important to block rats’ food supplies with practical methods, like using a trash can with a lid.

Cut off the food supply

Feeding animals and birds outside, including dogs and cats, provides a food source for rats, Broccoli said.

“Bird feeders and squirrel feeders are also a problem,” he said. “Again, you’re putting a food source out there for rodents to come and eat.”

Because they provide a food source, chicken coops are a problem, he said.

Call an exterminator

Broccoli said he encourages people to hire an exterminator rather than try to solve the problem themselves.

“I recommend people get an exterminator — I tell them to pick who they want, there’s a good amount of them on the internet, pick a local company,” he said.

He said that owners of rental properties were required also to hire an exterminator by law.

Be neighborly

To prevent rat infestations, everyone must participate and remind one another what needs to be done, he said.

“People from a community aspect, neighbors should be neighborly,” he said. “You could say, hey why don’t you clean that up over there, or don’t stack that material over there, or don’t leave your dog food out.”

He also said that upholstered furniture, cushions and mattresses should not be left outside because they provide nesting areas for rats.

The more people know about the problem, the more they’ll take preventive measures, he said.

chewitt@thewesterlysun.com

Better safe than sorry

Westerly Minimum Housing Officer James Broccoli’s list of precautions that residents and property owners are responsible for, adapted from Westerly’s Ordinances and the Rhode Island Property Maintenance Codes.

Exterior property/premises must be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition.

Premises/exterior property must be maintained free of weeds or tall grass in excess of 6 inches.

All exterior property and premises, and the interior of every structure, shall be free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.

Every occupant of a structure shall dispose of all rubbish in a clean and sanitary manner by placing such rubbish in approved containers with lids.

Every window intended to be used for ventilation, and every other opening located at or near ground level which might provide an entry for rodents, must be supplied with adequate screens or other devices that will effectively prevent their entrance.

All doors, including swinging, sliding and folding types, must be constructed so that the space between the lower edge of the door and the threshold and the space between sections of folding and sliding doors when closed does not exceed three-eighths inch (3/8”).

Basement floors and/or the floors and areas in contact with the soil, and located at a maximum depth of four feet (4’) or less from the grade line, must be paved with concrete or other rat impervious material. Skirting, lattice, or other non-rat-proofed enclosures displaying evidence of rat harborage under a porch or any portions of a building must be rat-proofed at all locations where evidence of burrowing or gnawing was found.

Structures/exterior property must be kept free from rodent harborage and infestation. Where rodents are found, they shall be promptly exterminated by approved processes not be injurious to human health. After extermination, proper precautions shall be taken to eliminate rodent harborage and prevent reinfestation. Mattresses, cushions, old chairs, couches, along with any other materials that may be used for harborage must be removed.

No inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicle shall be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped or dismantled. Old cars make an excellent habitat for all types of rodents.


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