Residents Turn Out for Rat Summit – Barracks Row Restaurants, Not So Much
by Larry Janezich
Some 20 residents and a handful of ANC commissioners showed up for the Community Ward Six Rat Summit in Hill Center today. The owners and managers of the source of many of the area’s rodent problems – the Barracks Row restaurants – appeared to be under represented, if present at all. This was despite the efforts of the ANC commissioners Peisch and Oldenburg to encourage turnout among the restaurants in the 400 and 500 blocks of 8th Street, SE.
Restaurants are key players in the problem, according to Bobby Corrigan, Ph.D., of Corrigan Consulting, of Richmond, the featured speaker and one of the area’s leading experts on rodents. He noted that one 60 pound bag of restaurant trash can supply edibles for 1,000 rats for a day.
According to Corrigan restaurant and resident trash disposal is a primary contributor to sustaining a neighborhoods rodent population. Regarding restaurants, he said the push for enforcement by residents and resistance by business can create a weak link in the eradication chain which allows rats to take advantage. Today’s meeting provided evidence to back up this statement.
Corrigan said that rats need food, shelter, and water. The first two of these are the factors which can be controlled – water is widely available, and a rat can survive on the water from the morning dew on grass.
Some key rat facts listed by Corrigan include:
- Doughnuts, bagels, and fried chicken are favorite rat foods, which they learn to like from the milk produced by a nursing mother who feeds on those items.
- Rats live an average of 5 – 7 months of life when on the street; in a cage, they would survive longer.
- A rat’s range can be as short as 25 feet from the nest up to 450 feet, depending on the source of food.
- Corrigan says there are no “super rats,” and he will buy dinner for anyone bringing him a two pound rat.
- Rats love alleys and other areas where residents regularly put out trash.
- Rodents can enter a building through a hole the size of a dime, or through a crack the width of a Number 2 pencil. The oily smear surrounding a rat hole in a wall is characteristic and comes from sebum secreted by the rat’s sebaceous glands.
- Composting does not attract rats if cone correctly.
- If you garden in an area with rats, it is difficult to keep them out.
- Black box bait station poisoning is not particularly effective for rats regularly dining on a favorite food to which they have become accustomed.
- Treating burrows with poison bait can be effective if monitored and followed up on by the city. Poison Tracking powder can be effective but affects pets and other mammals, and like bait takes a week or two to kill a rat.
- Construction excavation does not necessarily produce rats – the rats have to be present.
- “Excluder Rodent Proofing” is probably the best technology available on rodent control.
Some residents participating in today’s meeting said they were there because of rodent issues attending the restaurant group at 1st and D, SE (Tortilla Coast, Talay Thai, and Bullfeathers, and Ninella on 13th Street, SE, on Lincoln Park. Capitol Hill Corner has posted several articles on Capitol Hill’s rat problem pointing to the restaurant group at 13th and Pennsylvania SE, http://bit.ly/RdVSfW , the Starbuck’s at 3rd and Pennsylvania http://bit.ly/1hZbdJN , Barracks Row http://bit.ly/NK8lps , and Metro Center http://bit.ly/1aHa3T8. ANC6b has enlisted city agencies to conduct a coordinated effort to address the Metro Center problem and individual commissioners are moving to address some of the other areas.
The key to rodent control is a joint effort by the community and city to make the environment unfriendly. Restaurants must clean up and power wash alleys, clean disposal bins, and control trash disposal by keeping it inside until hauled away or disposing of it in a rodent proof trash compacter.
Things which community can do are the following.
Dispose of dog waste in residential trash bins with lids (your own, not those of other residents) or in public disposals which are impervious to access by rats.
Dispose of household trash in bins with lids – never in plastic bags.
Use landscaping which is unfriendly to rodents – bush and shrub choice (conical) are critical.
Corrigan stressed that “the rat is not forgiving of our mistakes,” and offered to answer questions which are emailed to him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s event was sponsored by CM Tommy Wells, DC DOH, and ANC6b.