Rodents are a fact of life, but as Dearborn residents we can work together to greatly reduce their numbers while making our community healthier, cleaner and more enjoyable.
What can I do to make my property less inviting to rodents?
Eliminate sources of food and water.
Rats love free food! Eliminate easy meals or water sources and your property will be much less inviting. Do not keep pet food outdoors or scatter bird seed on the ground. Harvest ripe fruit and vegetables and pick up any food that has fallen to the ground. Do not store any food in garages or sheds. If any type of pet food or seed is outside, ensure that it is stored in chew-proof containers with tight-fitting lids. Do not ground feed birds, and clean up seed and hulls from beneath hanging bird feeders. Clean up pet waste from your yard each day. Rats are not picky eaters!
Compost must be properly containerized, maintained and stored at least 18” above the ground. Never place food or food waste (including that from vegetable gardens and fruit trees) in compost.
Store all trash in bags inside your City issued trash cart. Trash should not be stored on the ground for any length of time. If your trash or recycle carts are damaged and allowing rodent access, call 313-943-2150 for repair or replacement.
Keep seasonal decorations in mind. Decorating with pumpkins and cornstalks in the fall is fun, but they can provide food for rats, especially went left out for an extended period of time. In a timely manner, be sure to properly dispose of them in your trash container. Do not dispose of these edible decorations in yard waste or toss them in the street during loose leaf collection.
Eliminate shelter and harborage
Rats don’t need to live in squalor, but they do like to hide in secluded places. The tidier and brighter a property is, the less interested rats are in moving in. Remove all junk and debris from the ground. When not in use, please properly store lawn furniture and with other exterior household items. Stack firewood at least 9” off the ground when stored over dirt or grass and at least 12” away from fences and walls. Do not store building materials or debris of any kind on the ground. Remove any inoperable vehicles. Rats will make burrows under anything that provides them shelter, including sheds without foundations and rat walls, pavers, low landscaping and wooden decks.
Keep grass cut to 6” and remove any weeds. Trim trees, bushes and vines at least 18” from the ground. Remove heavy vegetation from buildings and fences.
Seal cracks, holes or breaks in foundations, and repair any holes around pipes, windows, vents, screens and any openings to your home. Rats only need about ½” to squeeze through. Outside steps should be made of concrete. Keep the space beneath porches and decks free of clutter.
Maintain a tidy and rat free property and help spread the word.
Keep up on your yard, and share information with your neighbors. It’s possible that rats never crossed their mind when they added bird feeders to their yard, tossed bread outside, planted a line of low hedges or a vegetable garden. A little knowledge can go a long way to making our community a cleaner place to live in!
We must all do our part to help achieve long-term, permanent rat control. Trapping and chemical control alone cannot fix the issue. By removing food, water and harborage, properties will not be inviting to rats. The more properties which are upheld to this standard, the fewer rats we will have in our city.
What are some signs that rats are present?
Keep an eye out for burrows (holes) in the ground, droppings, tracks or paths, chew marks, urine stains (can be seen with a black light), and urine odor. All of these may indicate a rodent problem, and residents should contact the City’s vector control or a licensed pest control contractor to properly identify the cause. Commonly, signs of other rodents such as chipmunks, mice, squirrels, and opossums are mistaken as rats but are not subject to vector control.
Why am I seeing rats?
Construction is a common reason that residents start seeing rat activity, especially during the day when rodents are typically hidden away. Whether it’s nearby home outdoor home renovation or a large-scale street construction project, rats will be on the move. This doesn’t cause more rats, it simply means that they are being scared out of their burrows elsewhere. It also means that they are looking for a new place to settle in.
Mild winters can lead to an increase in the rodent population as well. We can’t control the weather, but all residents can take the previously mentions steps to eliminate food, water and harborage. Fortunately, these steps also make our neighborhoods nicer for all human residents!
Simply seeing a rat does not necessarily mean that your property has a rat problem. Rats will travel through yards in search of food and shelter. If properties are properly maintained without food, water and harborage, the rats will not easily find a new place to establish a burrow to live, breed, or feed, and they will leave the area.
How can the City help?
Dearborn is one of the only cities in Michigan with an extensive courtesy rodent control program to combat the rat population. Before calling, residents should check their properties for sources water, food and harborage. Some simple changes might be able to get the process started right away! Printed resources are available for guidance. If changes are implemented, but a problem persists, or the issue lies in a nearby area, technicians can visit a property and assess if there are signs of rats. Keep in mind that technicians can only enter yards with permission or probable cause, and cannot enter structures.
When needed, technicians will place special commercial rodenticides into active burrows. Rodenticides must NEVER be placed on open ground. If your property does not contain any burrows, property maintenance may be all that is required. In more involved cases, abatement or a resident hiring a pest control company may be necessary. Never put store-bought poisons out in your yard. Improperly placed poison can pose a threat to children, pets and other animals. If not properly treated, rats can become resistant or develop immunities, which can make controlling their numbers more difficult.
City technicians cannot treat for rats within a structure or home. A pest control company must be hired by the resident in order to treat inside a structure or home or outside if there is a more extensive infestation. As well, city technicians may determine that no action on your property is necessary because the rats are living or feeding in surrounding yards.
The long-term success of the rodent control program depends on the cooperation of all residents! For further information or to report a situation which is encouraging rat activity, contact the City of Dearborn Vector Control Division at 313-943-2150. Other domestic or wildlife complaints should be reported to Animal Control at 313-943-2079.
I called the City about rat activity in my neighborhood. What now?
City technicians cannot not access a property without homeowner permission. However if they are given permission to enter a nearby yard, they can check for violations within their range of sight. Each rodent control case is unique. Sometimes a homeowner can make a few simple changes and clear up an issue quite quickly. Other situations may call for a much more involved, long-term approach.
Technicians might receive a call about one location, only to find contributing issues with several other nearby properties. The result might be educating residents on two blocks and helping get all of those properties on board with good rodent control practices. Although it might take extra time, a situation like this might be just what the neighborhood needs to improve our community overall.
If it is determined that poor property maintenance practices are leading to a rat infestation, homeowners are typically issued a Notice of Violation and given time to correct any problems. Not all solutions can come about immediately. The timeline for repeat offenders is typically shorter, and may advance directly to a ticket. If a homeowner is unable or unwilling to respond to a Notice of Violation or a ticket, in some situations, the property may be abated by the City’s contractor and lien placed on the property for the cost of abatement.