OVERLAND, MO - Some residents in Overland are dealing with unwanted visitors in their neighborhood. City officials confirm they have received complaints about rats in the area. The Overland Police Department employs a Health and Rabies Officer who is working with the community to help get rid of the problem.
Barb McBride is one of many residents in Overland dealing with rats on her property, and it is putting a damper on her summer. Her grandchildren visit her home often, and she said they have been spending most of their time indoors because she does not want the kids near the rodents.
McBride’s dog first alerted the family to a trespassing rodent. She has since seen them climbing trees and hiding in bushes. At the suggestion of the Overland Health and Rabies Officer, McBride and her husband took down several flowering plants along their fence line so the rats would have fewer places to hide.
McBride has lived in her home for 17 years and said she has never experienced a problem with rats in the past. She said she is pleased with the department's response to the problem.
Overland Police Chief Michael Laws said the Health and Rabies Officer has not yet seen a rat but did notice holes in the ground that could have been caused by rats.
According to Jay Everitt, Technical Director of Rottler Pest and Lawn Solutions, rats burrow in the ground and can cause erosion. He said rats are also destructive chewers.
“The fear there is are they chewing on electrical wires? Are they chewing on the sprinkler system, the gas lines for your barbeque pit?" he said.
Everitt said people may notice chewing marks on a plastic trash can so he recommends something stronger with a tight-fitting lid.
The Health and Rabies Officer set some traps on the residents’ property including McBride’s. He is asking residents to help by eliminating any food source that will attract rats like vegetable gardens, bird feeders and pet food.
Everitt said, generally, people do not need to worry rats carrying rabies, but fleas, mites, parasites and other germs are still a concern. He said if people are going to clean rodent droppings or nests, they should be sure to wear gloves and a mask because some of the diseases rats carry can be airborne.
There have been no complaints of rats inside the homes in Overland. Everitt said to keep pests out, it is important to make sure they have no access into the home.
“Mice, the size of a pencil, a quarter of an inch, very small," Everitt said about the size of a hole a mouse would need to get into a home. "A rat, it’s a little bit bigger, maybe 3/8 of an inch, a half an inch. The idea there is if they can squeeze their head in, they can get their body in.”
Everitt said inside the home, snap traps are best because they come with fewer risks than poison. However, he advised setting up just a few traps rather than many which may scare the rodents off into a different part of the home. If the problem becomes too much for the resident to handle, Everitt said one of his technicians can inspect the home or property free of charge.
Chief Laws said residents should report rodent problems to his department at (314) 428-1221. The department will provide rodent poison and help monitor the traps.
“We don’t want somebody going out to try to catch them themselves, or, obviously, not shoot at them or anything like that.”