Our year-long mild weather and the forecast for an El Nino winter raises concern about a pesty consequence: more rats.
County health officials in Yakima and Kittitas counties say rats have multiplied and, with cooler fall weather, are now seeking shelter indoors. The greatest problems come from 1-pound Norway rats and smaller roof rats that like to gnaw on electrical insulation, exposing wires that can short and spark fires.
Our unusually warm winter allowed more rats to survive than in typical years. A roof rat can have up to 32 babies a year that are able to reproduce within months.
I had a bad experience with another type of rat – a pack rat – at our Cle Elum cabin. We knew we had trouble when, lying in bed at night, we heard scratching sounds come from behind the wallboard. The critter was tearing the paper backing on our insulation and gnawing on wires.
I caught the packrat with a live trap and released it in the mountains along I-90. We’ve been lucky since then and now catch only garden-variety mice now and then in our cabin.
But I know rats can wreak havoc. My brother-in-law has a rat shield on the power line that runs to his roof in Seattle, to discourage rats from tight-roping the wire and entering his home.
Rats do the same thing in Ellensburg, causing 23 power outages over the past two years according to a city official. Read the Yakima Herald-Republic article and learn why PayDay candy bars are ideal for baiting rats.