How to Address The Rat Problem Outside Your Building

Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic, Rodents in NYC Are Running Wild. What Can You Do to Stop Them?

Article by Simon Butler

Rodents in New York City

Anyone living in New York City knows that this town has its share of rats.

And due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have widely adopted outdoor seating—a popular attraction for famished rodents. At the same time, city budget cuts have led to a lower frequency of garbage collection, allowing trash to pile up in the streets.

As a result, New Yorkers are now witnessing a major spike in outdoor rodent populations plaguing our city, targeting outdoor diners, and hanging around trash piles in front of homes and businesses.

Yet despite their proliferation, there are ways to combat them. NYC pest control companies like MMPC have the know-how, personnel, and equipment to help you address outdoor rodent infestations from the root.

Here are some steps you can take to protect your home and property.

Outdoor Rodent Control: Where Do You Start?

Rodent proofing your property or building can help prevent and eliminate a potential rat problem. This entails the use of exclusionary tactics, designed to locate and seal those holes and tiny crevices where New York City rats make their nests.

You can also opt for exclusion treatments involving the placement of barriers, which stop rodents from traveling from building to building. Made from tough substances that rats can’t bite through—such as steel wool, expanding foam, clear caulk, and metal plating—these barriers can be easily fitted over minuscule holes and cracks with surgical precision. 

If you see signs of an infestation—such as live or dead rats, droppings, or burrows—and you’d like to learn more about rodent proofing methods, contact MMPC or your local outdoor rodent control specialist for a consultation today.

Mice and rats often access buildings through small structural openings
(Image by sipa from Pixabay)

Rodent Bait Stations

Placing rodent bait stations outside your home, apartment buildings or business is another way to deal with outdoor rat problems.

These are locked, tamper-resistant boxes made of sturdy plastic or metal, filled with either solid or liquid bait. At MMPC, we use solid, anticoagulant bait blocks that are specially formulated to attract and eliminate mice and rats.

These traps don’t actually catch the rats, eliminating the need for messy cleanup. Rather, their purpose is to disperse the bait among neighborhood rodent populations and whittle down their numbers over a period of days and weeks.

In general, the bait within these boxes is inaccessible to humans and pets. But in the unlikely scenario that a dog or cat ingests a small amount of the anticoagulant by mistake, the toxicity can be counteracted with Vitamin K1, which can be found in many pet foods and over-the-counter medication.

When Rats Invade Your Plantings

Residential neighborhoods also face the challenge of dealing with New York City rats that like to dig under the dirt surrounding ornamental trees and other greenery.

In these cases, rodent proofing your greenery may involve the application of natural rodenticides, which can be placed directly inside rat burrows. Rodents eliminated this way are effectively buried underground, so no further disposal is necessary.

Dry ice can also be used by pest control professionals to treat outdoor rodent infestations. Pellets of dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide, are inserted into burrows, which releases the gas and smothers any rats living inside. While more labor-intensive than rodenticide, dry ice gassing doesn’t pose secondary poisoning risks to other animals and is especially effective for dealing with networks of burrows.

Digging is a rodent's specialty
(Image by Oldiefan from Pixabay)

What Not to Do if You Spot a Rat Outside Your Building

Although mice and rats are more active at night, starvation has made New York City rodents bold, becoming increasingly prevalent during the sunlit hours.

So what can you do if you cross paths with one (or more)? Well, screaming and running as fast as possible down the block may not always be feasible, especially if you’re carrying heavy bags on your way to work or taking your kid to school.

Don’t think about feeding or catching them with your bare or gloved hands, either. Norway rats, which are predominant among New York City rats, generally measure more than half a foot long each and are not docile. They’re wild animals that bite, and their incisors are sharp. As they frequently carry diseases, including salmonella and tuberculosis, handling them is dangerous, especially if you’re not a professional rodent control specialist.

Rats aren’t fans of people. If one gets too near, just move away from it. Do not under any circumstances approach one or corner it in any way. If you accidentally touch it (or it touches you), refrain from touching your face until you can wash any affected clothing and scrub yourself with soap.

Filling The Holes

Sealing up any structural openings in your building facades with steel mesh and/or cement will help stem the tide of these pests.

Since they like to hide under overgrown shrubs or plants, you should also examine the soil for burrows to be filled so as to prevent the creatures from getting in and out. 

Using steel-lidded trash cans can also help mitigate and prevent outdoor rodent infestations. Trash cans that aren’t properly closed are magnets for these animals, which will chew holes in plastic garbage bags to get at any food inside. If you take away the rats’ food source, they’ll be less likely to congregate in your area.

Exclusion and baiting can help decrease the rodent population in NYC neighborhoods.
(Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay)

The Future of Rodent Control in NYC?

At this juncture, people need rodent proofing and rodent control services more than ever to combat the influx of NYC rats that have burgeoned in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The question is, will New York City return to its normal rodent-population levels after the pandemic is over?

While we can’t predict the future, local pest control companies in NYC like MMPC will be working hard towards that goal.

In the meantime, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue to live your daily lives the way you already have been doing. Extra vigilance is always helpful, and the implementation of effective, environmentally safe pest control methods, such as exclusion and rodent bait stations, also is important.

Questions? Feel free to contact MMPC at (212) 219-8218 for a free rodent-proofing consultation.