Rat populations in cities like Berkeley swell in the summer months. Photos: Reg McKenna

By Robert Mills

Rats and other rodents are out and about. The cunning, nocturnal critters seem to grow in numbers during the hot summer nights, and Berkeley residents can do their part to cut down on their nighttime scavenging.

“We need to remind the community that there are things they can do to eliminate outside food, water and places where rodents can live,” said Manuel Ramirez, general manager of the city’s Environmental Health Department. “We respond everyday to overgrowth of vegetation, and we get a lot of people leaving out pet food and bird seed.

“Those are perfect sources of food for rodents and other wildlife.”

One Berkeleyside reader reports that when she recently called in pest control they said there was currently a rat infestation  in Berkeley.

Ramirez said swells in rodent populations during the summer are directly related to increased human activity. When the days heat up and get longer, more people get careless about litter and leftovers, he said. Scraps from barbeques and standing water from kiddy pools make the perfect food and water sources for nesting rats.

“People need to be cognizant that we live in a very populated area,” Ramirez said. “Rodents are part of the ecosystem. We provide food for them. Most people don’t think about that. The easiest way to control them is to eliminate those food sources.”

A clean yard will cut down on rodent activity. Ramirez advised to clean up extra brush, dog waste and fallen fruits from fruit trees.

“If the rodent population gets out of hand, people want to apply pesticides,” he said. “Pesticides have risks associated with them. The best thing to do is eliminate the contributing factors.”

For more information about protecting your home from rodents, visit the Environmental Health website.

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