Portland Rats Are In The News Again

Every city has seen its fair share of rats but some cities see them more predominately than others. Last year, Portland was ranked through a study as being the 24th rattiest city out of 50 cities within the U.S. With rodent populations continuously increasing over the past two decades, does this mean Portland will rise in the ranks as one of the top rattiest cities in the U.S.? Time will tell but we are hoping this will not be the case. 

What Kind Of Rats Live In Portland

There are two types of rats that are commonly found in the Portland metro area. The black rat and the brown rat. Neither of the two species is native to the area but they have learned to adapt to it and manipulate living conditions in order to thrive. 

The black rat, also commonly known as the roof rat originated in the Indian subcontinent but is now seen worldwide. It is black to light brown in color with lighter coloring on its underside. Black rats are considered omnivores which eat a wide variety of foods including fruit, leaves, stems, seeds, insects, birds, and fungi. Because of this, they are a pest to farmers and a threat to many natural habitats. 

The brown rat, also commonly known as the street or sewer rat, is one of the largest rodents within the rodent family and is thought to originate in northern China and its neighboring areas but is now widespread except for in continent Antarctica. The brown rats are true omnivores, consuming almost anything with cereals being the main part of their diet. Brown rats will easily adapt to their environments thus eating foods that are common within their living space. This is one reason why brown rats can easily thrive in urban areas where disposed foods are plentiful. 

5 Reasons Portland Is Seeing An Increase In Rats

1. Backyard Gardens– Backyard gardens have created a smorgasbord of food options for rats to eat. This is one of the main reasons for seeing an increase in rat populations. Many outdoor gardens are not enclosed making it seems as if people are feeding rats their meals. Even with rat traps placed out in the yard, rats will naturally go towards these easy food options that smell much more tantalizing than whatever is in a rat bait. 

2. Backyard Farm Animals– Backyard farm animals like chickens are another major attractant to rats. These habitats provide food through chicken feed and sometimes their eggs. Chicken coops are also prone to insects because of the smell and though the chickens themselves will be drawn to these pests for food, so will the rats. 

3. Old Buildings- Portland is 171 years old and is a growing city. There are many outdated infrastructures that have become havens for rodents to live and breed. 

4. New Construction- New Construction is a good sign of a thriving economy but there are two negatives to think about when it comes to rats. One is that a lot of new construction is not replacing the old vacant buildings leaving those areas a place for rats to live.  It also means that with new construction you are disturbing the rodent population within the area causing them to have to relocate and go elsewhere which may direct them outward closer to the suburbs. It’s a constant cycle of harboring and displacing that can happen all at the same time. 

5. Homelessness- Homeless camps are an attractant to rodents whether in the city or outside the city limits because they provide shelter close to a food source. Since homeless camps can be full of garbage this provides an opportunity for rats to maximize leading to a thriving rat population. 

What You Can Do To Deter Rats From Your Property

There is no need to be deterred from growing your own vegetables or raising chickens but if you are going to have them on your property there are some ways to keep them from attracting rats. The key is to keep rats from wanting to make your property their new place of living or as a food source which will require simple adjustments. 

  1. A greenhouse can help contain your garden vegetables and keep out pests like rats. Placing your greenhouse on a solid foundation that is a couple of feet into the ground will help keep rats from digging underneath and accessing your vegetables. 
  2. Elevate your chicken feed so that the rats do not have easy access. You can also empty the chicken feed at night and only keep it out during the day. Rats are nocturnal by nature and will be less likely to come around. 
  3. Keep pet bowls inside or leave them empty at night. 
  4. Assess the exterior of your home and look for holes or openings that are even a quarter inch in diameter. A small hole is all that rats need to get inside. Check your foundation vents to make sure they are secure as well as exposed plumbing. 
  5. Keep all animal food in sealed containers. Rats have a keen sense of smell so you will want to eliminate this as an attractant. 
  6. Keep shrubs tightly pruned if they are near the house. These make for great hiding spaces for rats. Trim down tree branches that overhang your home as well since rats are great climbers.
  7. Keep wood piles and any other pilings at least six feet from the exterior of the home. These can also be areas where rats can hide and make their home. 

The key to keeping rats from increasing overall will come down to homeowners and businesses doing what is needed in and around their property 

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