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Rats and Bats
Rats can spread disease and interfere with economic and physical well-being. Rats are predominately burrowing rodents. They are most active at night and are seldom seen during the day except if there is a large rat population. Rats will eat almost anything and often feed on pet or bird seed.

Signs of Rat Activity:

  • Droppings- Shiny and dark colored when fresh
  • Runways- Rats use the same trails from burrow to food, water and harborage. These pathways appear to be swept clean of debris
  • Burrows- found along walls, wood piles, and concrete slabs
  • Gnawing- rats must gnaw to keep their front teeth worn down

Homeowners and General Questions about Rats and Rodent Control:
Each homeowner or business can and must control the physical environment to limit rat populations. If you are a homeowner and are having a rat problem please see the below information. In the city of Wauwatosa it is the responsibility of property owners to prevent conditions on their property that provide a home or food source for rats. The Health Department cannot come to your home to eliminate rats.

  • Eliminating the rat's food
    • Use a 20- to 30-gallon garbage can with a tight-fitting lid for storing garbage and rubbish.
    • Do not leave pet food where rats can have access to it. If you feed your pets outside, be sure to remove the pet food after your pets have fed. Leaving pet food outside may attract rats into your yard.
    • Compost piles may also be a source of food for rats. If you live in an area where rats may become a problem, do not put food scraps in your compost pile, or use the pit method of composting.
    • Bird feeders may also be a source of food for rats. When feeding wild birds please do so with care and consideration for your neighbors. Feed birds in a way that does not create nuisance or a rat problem in your neighborhood.
    • Remember! If you eliminate a rat's food source, you eliminate the rat.
  • Eliminate the rat's harborage
    • Get rid of all rubbish, junk and unwanted building materials where rats can hide and live.
    • Store useable building materials, firewood, etc. on racks at least 18 inches above the ground.
    • Irrigation ditches and stream beds which run through neighborhoods provide undisturbed areas in which rats may live. Dumping grass clippings and tree trimmings into these areas provides additional harborage for rats.
    • Prevent rats from entering buildings by closing all access routes.
  • Good environmental sanitation is required if rats are to be controlled or eliminated from an area.
  • Rat poisons or trapping can be used as a tool to supplement good sanitation practices but should not be used as a substitute for sanitation.
  • Warfarin or similar compounds are sold by many companies and are available to the general public. Rats must feed on these materials for about one week before they are killed. These baits must be available to rats the for the entire week period. Be sure to follow all instructions on the label completely.
  • If you have an active rat infestation, you must remove bird seed for trapping and poisoning efforts to be successful. 
  • Trapping may be effective if populations are small.

If help is needed, contact a professional pest control specialist.

Filing a Rodent complaint (please read criteria below):

In the city of Wauwatosa, The Health Department responds to complaints about rodent (rats and mice) infestation and neighborhood rodent issues. We can provide information to the property owner about rodent control and enforcement according to Wauwatosa Ordinances (see 8.56.030) requirements for rodent control.  The Health Department does NOT offer baiting or elimination services for rodents. If you would like to file a complaint regarding rodent infestation or neighborhood rodent issues please call the Wauwatosa Health Department Information and Referral Nurse Line (414-479-8939). Residents of the City of Wauwatosa can report illegal dumping of garbage and solid waste on private property where rats have NOT been sighted to the City of Wauwatosa Department of Property Maintenance at (414) 479-8981. 

Bats are a very important part of our ecosystem and we need them outside eating mosquitoes. It is not uncommon for bats to find their way into homes and apartments. Do not panic and avoid coming into direct contact with the bat. Do not try and kill the bat with a tennis racket or broom, bats are fragile and striking them may render them unable to be tested for rabies. Only 2- 3% of wild bat population carry the rabies virus and the testing is done only when circumstances warrant. The Wauwatosa Health Department cannot assist you in capturing bats. Suggested methods are to wear heavy leather gloves and capture the bats with a towel or blanket or cover it with a box or other container and slide a lid over the opening. There are several animal control contractors in the area to assist if you are not comfortable doing this yourself. Bats should then be taken to the Wisconsin Humane Society for rehabilitation or sample preparation. Please call the Wauwatosa Health Department Information and Referral Nurse Line (414-479-8939) if you come into contact with a bat or if you have one captured and are unsure of what to do. If you find a bat in your residence do not leave the door open and let it find its own way out. The Health Department may want to test the bat for rabies depending on the circumstances


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