Lots of chatter is going on in one Maine town about the abundance of rats that all of a sudden has become a problem. Milford residents have seen an uptick in the rodent which has many wondering what to do with this newly surfaced problem.

Speaking with Jason Mailmen, Milford's fire chief, he explained he was aware of the town's issue and offered an explanation of the recent surge in rodent activity due to recent climate conditions here in the State of Maine.

Mailmen said that the warm winter followed by continuing drought conditions has made the river volume lower than normal. The lower level of the river's water has created a circumstance where the rats are being led away from the river and surging onto private properties to find food and shelter.

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There is not much the town can do to help with the problem since the Town of Milford cannot spend town money on private property but, there are things homeowners can do to mitigate the problem on their property for Milford and in other river towns here in Maine.

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, rats are pretty rugged creatures and can chew through cinder blocks and can get through a hole the size of a quarter.

You can identify signs of rats being around by seeing their excrement, seeing the holes they've created, catching the smudge marks on walls they make, and even hearing the sound of their movement in walls and attics. Also, if you have a pet around, your pet may stare intently at a wall, which could harbor a rat behind it.

The Humane Society suggests sealing holes with heavy-weight materials, plugging gaps in walls with copper mesh, and sealing gaps with caulking or foam insulation, combined with wire mesh. You could also go for repellents, too, though most of them aren't a long-term solution.

But, the biggest deterrent is not inviting them to stay and hang around by ensuring your property is not rat friendly. You can do this by:

  • clearing debris away from buildings
  • storing food that is kept outside the living space in thick and lidded containers,
  • disposing of trash on a regular basis
  • keeping trash contained in a bin
  • clean up pet waste from the yard daily

For more tips on trying to get control of rats on your property, visit humanesociety.org's page about 'What to do about wild rats'.

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