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Ridding Towson of rats

Posted on: November 13, 2017

Towson, MD is no stranger to rats. The county action against rat infestations in Towson and nearby Baltimore has been going on since World War II. In fact, the Baltimore area is one of the most important locations for rat research in the country.  

Although rats have been making their home on the East Coast since the 18th century, 1942 marks the start of Baltimore’s official history with rats, which were causing a tremendous amount of damage across the country and abroad. In the United States, rats caused an estimated $200 million in infrastructure damages in 1942 alone; abroad, they sickened a number of our soldiers in the South Pacific with one of the many diseases they carry.  

At the time, access to known, naturally occurring rat poisons was limited because of trade route blockades during the war, so researchers at Johns Hopkins stepped in to find a chemical, home-grown alternative. The new rodenticide was efficient at killing rats, but sadly, it also killed pets and sickened children, making it necessary to develop the treatments we use today.  

Towson itself has also played an important part in the history of rat research. In 1947, the psychologist John B. Calhoun, who would later be the inspiration for elementary school favorite “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,” created a rat enclosure in the woodlands behind his house in Towson to test population theories. He recreated these same experiments in the lab and became famous for his findings and his models for overpopulated societies.  

In the decades since then, the Baltimore area and neighborhoods like Towson have become a magnet for rat researchers and, unfortunately, more rats. Towson’s mature trees and older homes give the neighborhood its charm, but they also make it an easy target for rats, who use trees and structural gaps as entry points. 

The Current Problem 

The most common rat we see in Towson and the rest of Baltimore County is the Norway rat, also known as the brown rat, the Wharf rat or the sewer rat. These shockingly intelligent rodents live in underground burrows, often against building structures, fences, patios, sheds and under decks. They can grow to be up to 18 inches long, and typically have brown or reddish-grey fur with a white belly.  

Norway rats usually live for a year and the females can give birth up to seven times in 12 months with up to 12 offspring per litter—if you’re keeping track, that’s up to 84 new rats each year, per female. Only about 30 survive to maturity, but it’s still easy to see why this long-standing infestation continues and why it got out of hand in the first place.  

Baltimore County hasn’t been taking the rat problem lying down. The county has implemented sweeps of the Towson area, hiring an exterminator to treat homes with alley access. While this certainly helps, the Brody Brothers team has been working on rat infestations in Towson for years, and our experience shows that everyone in the community has to be vigilant in driving away rats.  

Working toward a Solution 

The county’s rat eradication program is an important effort, but this is an old problem that won’t have a long-term solution if Towson residents don’t do their part to deter rats. Even if you haven’t seen signs of an infestation on your own property, everyone in the community should take basic steps to reduce the rat population:  

  • Mow your lawn regularly and make sure you don’t have any trash or other materials lying around 
  • Keep pet food, manure, and bird seed in tightly sealed containers and make sure your garbage cans have sturdy lids 
  • Although compost piles are good for the environment, they are an open invitation to rats, so don’t compost your household food scraps 
  • Rats may also target your home for water. Discourage them by dumping standing water out of pails, flower pots or other equipment 
  • Stop feeding other wild animals like birds and squirrels because the food also attracts rats, and clean up any spills from barbecues or picnics. Unfortunately, even veggie gardens and fruit trees can draw rats and may have to be removed.  

If you already know you have a rat problem on your property, it’s best to call in the experts; many homeowners try to solve the problem themselves by putting out poisoned bait, but they end up with dead rats in their walls or crawlspaces, trading one problem for another. The Brody Brothers team can get rats off your property without you having to deal with the remains. 

For our Towson clients, especially those who have dealt with a previous rat infestation in their homes, we strongly recommend our quarterly Home Protection Plan. It allows us to make sure that your rat problem hasn’t returned and avoid future infestations by pinpointing possible entry points and food targets.  

During each visit, we inspect thoroughly and close any rodent access points in foundations, under steps and in crawl spaces. We also walk your property and fill in rat burrows to cut the problem off at the source, while also inspecting and treating for more than 50 of the most common pests in the Towson and Baltimore area. We also recommend closing any gaps at door thresholds and putting heavy mesh screens over sump pump outlets. 

We have been serving the Towson community for more than 30 years and we are very familiar with the difficulties of getting rid of the local rat problem. If you or someone you know is affected by rats or other pests, we are here to help. Call Brody Brothers at 410-650-4266 and keep your home free of rodents. 

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