AP NEWS

Rats are finding rural habitat to their liking

October 13, 2018

FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, a rat leaves its burrow at a park in New York City. Rats aren't just a nuisance in cities. Rural residents across Maine are reporting an increase in the rodents, mirroring a trend nationwide. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Rats aren’t just for cities. Residents of rural New England are reporting an increase, mirroring a trend nationwide.

Rats are everywhere in nature, but the four-legged invaders tend to thrive on human activity, whether it’s a city or town, said Chance Strandell, of Brewer-based Maine Pest Solutions.

“It’s a national issue. And no one really has concrete proof of what is causing the rodent population to explode,” he told the Bangor Daily News.

It’s true that rats enjoy feasting on garbage. But the omnivorous critters will eat just about anything, and they seem to have a liking for birdseed.

A couple in the Bangor area ended up with 1,000 rats on an acre of land after they began putting out 40 pounds of birdseed a week for wildlife, Strandell said. “In broad daylight they were running around the bird feeder, like they were squirrels,” he said.

At this point, there are only theories about why rat populations are booming. Some blame the same bumper crop of acorns and other food last fall that propelled mice and squirrel populations. Others say warmer winters may be allowing them to thrive.

Just like mice, rats are a challenge to eradicate when they move into a home, garage or other structure.

Folks have complained about them in a number of communities in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Problems are also cropping up in California, Arizona, Massachusetts and Tennessee.

The list goes on.

In Belfast, Pete Zuck said that he thought he eradicated them before, but that they keep coming back.

“It’s like the old ’80s slasher films, when a hand pops out of the water at the end of the movie. I’m never going to be convinced that they’re gone.”

AP RADIO
Update hourly