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Ahee
February 07, 2013
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Never had Templeton the rat seen such leavings.

“This fair’s a rat’s paradise,” he says of garbage-littered fairgrounds in “Charlotte’s Web.” “Everything well-ripened and seasoned with the passage of time.”

Templeton’s gluttony is literary counterpoint to Charlotte’s generosity.

In real life, however, Grosse Pointe Farms administrators side with residents who want rats edited out of their neighborhoods.

“There’s not a problem with rats in the Farms,” said Terry Brennan, the city’s public services director. “That being said, if someone has a rat in their yard, it’s a problem to them and I understand that.”

Rat complaints are cyclical, according to Shane Reeside, city manager.

“We had more this past summer than the prior summer,” he said. “Part of that, we’ve been told by experts, is because it was a mild winter last year. We didn’t have as much die-off as is typical.”

Rats, like all animals, seek easy meals.

“Rats don’t travel far for food,” Reeside said. “If we eliminate the source of food, we normally eliminate the rat problem.”

Some residents inadvertently invite rats.

An example of well-intentioned kindness that often backfires is placing food outside for squirrels and birds.

Rats benefit by a resident setting out pizza crust, according to Brennan.

“What eating!” Templeton says.

Residents can reduce attractive nuisances for rodents.

Brennan recommended:

Store firewood at least 8 inches above ground.

Turn compost bins at least weekly. “Don’t put foodstuffs in your compost bin, not even egg shells,” Brennan said.

Secure trash can lids.

Pick up dog and cat waste. “It’s gross, but rats eat that as a last resort,” Brennan said.

Place bird feeders at least 30 inches above ground. Clean spillage under feeders.

Keep grass and ground cover less than 6 inches tall to deny rodents areas of concealment.

Baits and traps

Rodent complaints are generally addressed the day they’re lodged, Brennan said.

“We want to get on it quickly,” he said. “We bait nearby sewers. A letter goes to the resident and everybody around them telling them what they can to do nip it in the bud.”

For liability reasons, city employees aren’t allowed to place bait or traps on private property, nor in accessible areas of city land.

Residents can put bait boxes on their property.

“We’ll help a resident investigate or inspect their property,” Brennan said.

City employees also monitor sewer bait stations weekly for rodent activity.

“We’re luring them back to their original habitat,” Brennan said.

Homeowners can help by reducing usage of garbage disposals or, when used, rinsing the sewer lead with one cup of bleach followed by boiling water.

Disposals act as room service to rats living in sewers.

“If you’re using your garbage disposal nightly, you’re streaming out a buffet to them,” Brennan.

A chaser of bleach spoils the bounty.

“They won’t feed on that,” Brennan said.

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