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by DAMIAN MANN, Mail Tribune
Posted on May 4, 2010 at 8:55 PM
Updated Tuesday, May 4 at 1:28 PM
MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) -- Each time Pam Wasko's central heating system turned on, a horrible smell filled the house.
At first, Wasko was in denial about the cause, even though she heard scratching sounds in the attic and saw bits of insulation chewed away from duct work.
But the 57-year-old Medford woman discovered, like most of her neighbors on Orange Street, that an entire city block is under siege by an infestation of rats.
"It's disgusting," Wasko said. "I've never lived anywhere where it was such a problem."
Neighbors along Wasko's entire block, which is a short distance from the Jackson County Courthouse and Medford City Hall, report killing rats by the dozens.
"I've caught 42," said Marcia Williamson, who lives a few doors down from Wasko. She thinks neighbors will have to band together to solve the rat problem or the rats will just keep migrating from home to home.
"Rats are very resilient," Williamson said. "We have to do it all at once." Williamson has used poison to kill the rats, a solution not preferred by many neighbors who have pets.
Jerry Poppe, assistant manager of Jackson County Vector Control, plans to inspect the Orange Street area Wednesday. Typically, he said, rats are found in older neighborhoods, where the shrubbery and trees have matured for about 20 years.
Rats seem to like ivy, blackberries and junipers but also will feed on fruit trees. Poppe said a rat only needs a hole the size of a quarter to squeeze into a house, while mice can fit through a dime-sized opening.
Feeding within a 150-foot range of their nests, rats just need a good food source to thrive, and infestations are common throughout Jackson County. Poppe said he's seen a new house in east Medford with little vegetation overcome with a rat problem. The owner discovered the rats had burrowed under a compost bin and had made a nest at the bottom, finding ample feed just above them.
Poison is not the best option, he said. Not only could it kill a pet, but the rat can sometimes die in a wall or somewhere else in a house, where it rots, causing an even worse odor problem.
The best solution is to properly maintain vegetation, prevent access into the basement area and to keep food stored away. Bird feeders, cat and dog food or garbage all can attract rats. Sometimes sewer lines can become cracked, providing a point of entry for a rodent.
Poppe recommends either live or kill traps as the best method of catching a rodent. He doesn't recommend some of the gimmicky methods, such as sonic devices. "The best word to describe that is fraud," he said.
If homeowners had been rodent free, then suddenly get an infestation, Poppe said they should think back to any repairs that might have been performed recently.
Sometimes, a hole is punched through a vent for an air conditioning unit or to run a cable. Often the hole is larger than necessary, leaving an entrance for rodents.
Cats are not always that effective at hunting rats. "Usually, it takes a pretty bad cat to kill a rat," he said.
Laurie Terrall, who has been fending off rats at her Orange Street house, said she took one of her cats to the vet after suffering from a rat bite.
The 57-year-old said it has been difficult living in a neighborhood filled with rats. "You can hear them in the walls, you can hear them scampering in the ceilings, and you can hear them chewing into the wood in the basement," she said.
She has found rat feces under her house.
"It's not just a matter of annoyance," she said. "It's a matter of the diseases they can carry."
She cites the hantavirus or the bubonic plague. Meningitis, respiratory illness and salmonella all can be transmitted by rats.
Wasko said she's worried about allergies and health problems from her infestation. She doesn't turn on the heating system anymore, even though she had it installed almost three years ago. Wasko uses space heaters.
She is not sure how much the repairs and pest control will cost her yet, but she thinks it's a big enough problem that the city should help control it.
"I know it's Medford," she said. "It's not a wealthy city, but this is a major health problem."
Richard Berubee, who runs a local pest control business, U-Employ-Services, inspected Wasko's house Monday morning, trying to assess the damage.
"She has a fairly extreme problem," he said.
He said the neighborhood needs to work together to end the problem and keep on top of it.
"If you don't stay on top of a rat infestation, it gets way out of control," he said.
Police say a naked man crashed a pickup truck into a Dallas mall, then drove over a few kiosks before stopping to try on clothes. Dallas police were called to the Southwest Center Mall around 7:30 a.m. Friday. Officers say the man was apparently covered only in a blanket when he drove his truck through the glass entrance doors, then crashed through several kiosks before driving into a Champs Sporting Goods store.
Deputies say that a shirtless Trotter allegedly broke into a home in the 4900 block of Durland Way before he was thrown out Sunday evening.
The man then ran down the street around 7:30 p.m. knocking on doors before he entered Sturgis' house in the 7800 block of Olympic Way, officials said.
Deputies set up outside the home and called for those inside to exit. A short time later, a naked man, covered in blood, ran from the house, according to sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos. The man, later identified as Trotter, fell to the ground and was detained by officers.
Read more here: blogs.sacbee.com...=cpy
Originally posted by vampira309
reply to post by Komodo
just to clarify....Medford, Or (where the article referencing the rat problem) is 275 miles South of Portland, OR. I live in Portland and until I read this thread, I'd heard nothing about the rat issue.