Rikin S. Mehta, a senior deputy director of the city’s Department of Health, told the Post earlier this fall that Washington has “one of the most comprehensive rodent-control programs in the country,” geared toward understanding patterns of rodent behavior, not just exterminating animals when they pop up.
Mehta said that the city has a team of 14 rodent control specialists who are dispatched within two days every time a 3-1-1 call comes in about a rat sighting in a public place or a business. Residents can also report rat sightings to the Department of Health, and see where their neighbors have spotted rodents, by using the Post’s rat tracker.
Over the summer, Mehta’s branch of the Department of Health conducted a rat summit in each ward to ask residents about where they spot the creatures. The results will be published by spring.
Mehta and Gerard Brown, the program manager for the rodent and vector control division, offered some tips for avoiding rats at home: Put trash in a can, not just a plastic bag, and always keep the lid closed. Put away dog food as soon as you finish feeding your pet, and clean up dog waste right away. Keep the grass in your yard short.
“Starve the rats,” Mehta said. “Pesticides are not enough. You really need to cut them at the food source.”
Brown agreed, “Sanitation is pest control. Eliminate the food, and we can eliminate the rats. We have to change human behavior to do that.”
Maybe our competitive spirit will help us with that task. After all, we can’t let New Yorkers think they’re better.
The complete list from Orkin:
2. Los Angeles
3. Washington, D.C.-Hagerstown
4. New York
5. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
10. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
11. Dallas-Fort Worth
16. Minneapolis-St. Paul