Rats have caused more human suffering and more economic damage than any other vertebrate pest. From causing plague epidemics to rat-bite fever, whether feeding on stored grain or gnawing electric wires, rats are enemies of humankind. Statisticians estimate that rats destroy 20 percent of the world’s food supply every year by feeding, and indirectly through contamination.
In most instances, rats are very wary. Hundreds may be nesting in a city block-in underground burrows, in sewers, on roofs, inside buildings-with few people in the area realizing it. Within a population, some rats will be easy to control, some difficult.
Store human and animal food in rat-proof buildings, rooms, or containers. Old World rats are very capable of chewing through heavy-duty plastic garbage cans when they can get started chewing on a corner or the lid or a handle. Use metal garbage cans where this is a problem.
Successful long-term rat control is not simple; a continuing commitment to whatever solutions are adopted is required. Within a population, some rats will be easy to control, some difficult. Complete control is often not possible in old barns and similar structures. Rat populations may also be a consequence of community-wide activities over which you have little control—improper garbage disposal, building demolition, and poorly maintained bird-feeding stations.