Dallas' Rat Problem Is Getting Worse

Categories: Gross

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Mark Philpott
"Why don't you love me?"
If a pest control guy is making you feel terrified about rats invading your home, he's probably just trying to sell you on his ability to kill all those rats. That's the lesson, anyway, from another guy who sells rat-killing services.

"If it feels like they're trying to scare you, they probably are," says Matt Evans, head of the DFW A Wildlife Pro animal control company. In keeping with his own philosophy, Evans cautions us not to panic about what sure sounds like a huge increase in rats breaking into people's attics this summer. Asked about his rodent numbers, he says he's been getting a few dozen calls about rats and squirrels in attics each week. It's definitely more than past summers, when his rodent-in-attic calls per week stayed safely in the single-digit range.

Evans is guessing that the mild weather this summer has made attics more hospitable to critters. Still, the infestations have been easy to manage. "We're not overrun," he assures us. That's good. The bad news is that people who work in the wild say this isn't just a matter of rats finding our attics more comfortable year-round. There may also be more rats breaking into Dallas homes because there are more rats, everywhere.

"We've really got a rat explosion," says Cliff Moore, owner of DFW-based Animal Services Inc. Moore doesn't do pest control, so he's not making a living off of house-rat calls. Rather, he's noticed the explosion by working out in the field, trapping and releasing bigger animals. He can't name a specific spot that is rat prone. He just sees them. "It's throughout Dallas, Fort Worth, the whole metroplex really," Moore says.

North Texas sits on the Blackland Prairie, the eco-region that is home to many interesting plants and animals, at least in the spots where we haven't developed the land and killed everything.The two major rat species here are the roof rats and Norway rats, famous in most major cities for their ability to thrive in the gross corners of human habitats like trash bins and subways.

These rats are still safely near the bottom of the food chain, making a Planet of the Rats scenario unlikely. Unfortunately, they seem to realize this, and have kept their bloodline strong for thousands of years by making a ton of babies, growing exponentially with each generation. "They are a highly successful species," says Evans.

In Texas, they've lately been more successful than what people are used to. It was back in March when Texas A&M's agriculture department reported "greater-than-average activity" from rats in Dallas, Houston and other major cities, with an all-out explosion/home-invasion happening down south in Bastrop County. The increase is partly the result of wildfires that killed the rats' predators, the university wrote. Then a bunch of big storms followed, leading to a late-season surge in grass and seeds that helped the rats proliferate.

The storm/wet weather theory is shared by Robert Bradley, a biology professor at Texas Tech University. He doesn't have an official count, but in West Texas, where he's often in the field trapping rodents, "our trapping success is up," he says, putting a positive spin on it. "Rainfall this summer has improved conditions, triggering a reproductive increase," he says by email.

In the event of a possible oncoming rat-pocalypse, the advice from pest-controllers like Evans remains the same. Killing the rats isn't enough. You also need to make sure your pest guy seals off the holes in your home that the rats entered through so they don't return.

A longer-term solution for Dallas that Evans champions would be to copy a Highland Park law that forces developers to rid vacant houses of all their critters before they're demolished. Otherwise, the animals surely living inside will quickly scurry somewhere else when the vacant building gets torn down. "For rats, they're generally trying to get shelter all the time," Evans says. "If it's unoccupied, animals are going to get inside. It's almost like there's a sign outside of it saying that it's vacant."

Also, rats really like bird food. Do you love birds more than you hate rats? Before buying a bird feeder, ask yourself that question and side with your rat-hatred, or go find a special bird feeder that won't spill the seeds everywhere.


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46 comments
RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

I thought this was about some juicy new twist in the JWP case.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

There are rats in Highland Park?


Oh my.

AeroRazavi
AeroRazavi

I remember back in '93 when we first moved to Allen.  You did not see much in the way of wildlife.


But in recent years, perhaps because of drought conditions, and the allure of irrigated lawns, there are rabbits everywhere.  There are certainly quite few suburban dogs that are happy now because they have something to fetch other than a chew toy. 



TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Florida has some spare Bermuda Pythons, those things can eat 100 rats a day (or 3-5 stray dogs). Hell, they'll probably eat zebra mussels, nutria, west-Nile mosquitos, gators, and whatever the hell else Vonciel Hill has living in that cement pond.

What could possibly go wrong?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

CATS!  Sic the cats on them!  [Big Kitty growls menacingly]

MattL11
MattL11

As far as I'm concerned, a larger rat population is one of the surest signs that your city is becoming more World Class. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

How accurate can this article be if there is no mention of global climate shift, which is responsible for everything.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

All your items are counterfeits produced in third-world countries utilizing toddler labor.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

I was gonna say you lost my support and trust with this post, but you can't lose something you never had.

Voot
Voot

@TheRuddSki  This guy


http://www.texassnakes.net/texasrat.htm


works for free, 24/7, and doesn't do anything else, for example, kill every other living thing it sees moving, mark its territory with urine that can be smelled a yard away, yowl its romantic lamentations under your window at 3 AM, or shit in your flower beds or at least you'd never know it if it did.


But I'm also down with several hundred feral cats per square mile. .22 pellets are cheap.


Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz I'm with Myrna on this. I have a feral cat colony that mostly stay in my backyard (all the ones we can catch have been fixed). Before they moved in, we were having a rat problem. After they moved in, the problem went away.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@MattL11 Until we have NYC subway sized rats, we have not made it yet

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@TheRuddSki Actually, this particular phenomenon is more likely due to fracking than climate change.  Fracking is  loud, obtrusive and creates earthquakes, which all combine to drive the rats out of their outdoor habitat and to seek shelter in our attics.

tdkisok
tdkisok

@TheRuddSki


You always have to put a Right Wing bullshit slant on everything. It's so tiring.

Mervis
Mervis

@TheRuddSki So the only issue then is that they are counterfeits right?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Voot

I hope you shoot to cripple and maim, so the coyotes get at least a smidgen of hunting fun.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Tim.Covington

In turn, the cats attract coyotes and bigger cats.

In time, Indians will once again roam Plano.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk  Did you know that the Bubonic Plague spread rapidly across Europe by fleas on rats in the mid 14th century because millions of cats were killed?  At the time, cats were believed to be witches. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

Ever seen "Old Yeller"?

MattL11
MattL11

@ScottsMerkin @MattL11 This is merely the first step. Once we have a large enough population, the increased competition for scarce resources will ensure that only the larger, fiercer rats are able to pass on their genetic material to the next generation. Finally, once the rats get big enough, one of them will be appointed City Manager, and the transformation will be complete. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@tdkisok

Take a nap.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Mervis

You wish. fashionfast.net is also into human smuggling, and is suspected of financing several Mexican drug cartels.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

@TheRuddSki You say that like it is a bad thing. The Indians can't drive any worse than people in Plano do now.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Tim.Covington

Pity that they drive a 70K Mercedes.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TPFKAP

Old Yeller was a biscuit eater.

Some of them southern biscuits bite.

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