Booming rat population keeps Bay Area service techs busy

With temperatures in the 90s in the South Bay and Peninsula, it can be 120 degrees in the attic. But that's where pest control technicians from Three Step Rodent Proofing are working nonstop these days to rid homeowners of pesky rats. On a typical day, business owner Jim Britton has seven appointments scheduled, and the wait for service can take two weeks.

The rodent business is booming as the rodent population grows as a result of last winter's heavy rain and the vegetation that has resulted. Roof rats, known to be good climbers, eat fruit and snails in yards, then take up residence in attics or crawl spaces of nearby homes.

Britton says his techs will typically set out about a dozen spring traps baited with peanut butter (he says creamy works better than crunchy) in the crawl space and another dozen in the attic. The tech will return in a week to check for trapped rats. Britton had 13 odoriferous dead rats still caught in traps in a large plastic bag in the back of his work truck that he had collected from two homes on the Peninsula.

Once a homeowner decides to seek professional help, some will ask that the marked company truck not park directly in front of the house due to the potential embarrassment of having a rodent problem.

Neighborhoods in the hills often are more prone to sustaining rodents than others due to the food supply available.

Once the rodents are eradicated, prevention is the next step. That involves replacing broken foundation vents or plugging holes under roof eaves where rodents can enter a house. As Britton points out, it only takes a small opening for an agile rat to gain entry.

David Louie will have more on the region's rodent problem tonight on ABC7 News at 4:55 p.m. and 6 p.m.
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