James Murphy, director of the "War on Rats" program, offers suggestions on how to join the city's war on rats.

If you see a rat in your neighborhood, look for sources of food: garbage cans without lids, loose garbage and litter, fruit scattered on the ground from fruit trees and gardens. Remove the food source. Remember not to feed the birds in the yard.

Rats will eat anything, including dog feces, 50 percent of which is undigested dog food. Gardens also are a food source. If rats eat green leafy vegetables like cabbage and collard greens in large quantities, they will benefit from vitamin K in the vegetables, a natural andidote to Warfarin and Rozol, widely used rat poisons.

When the food source is removed, place rat poison in burrows or as near to burrows as possible. In damp weather, it may be necessary to change the bait. Rats won't eat moldy bait, even though they love garbage.

Remove all litter, woodpiles, tall grass or low ground cover, such as ivy, which provide harborage for rats.

It may be necessary to bait several times to get rid of rats. Rats produce about four litters a year, each litter containing from 8 to 22 rats. In three to six months, those newborn rats themselves produce litters.

For further advice, or to have the city bait on public property, call the "War on Rats" program at 5767389.

Murphy and his staff offer expert advice and are willing to meet with block clubs, civic groups, or private citizens.