New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Rat Expert Dishes Dirt on How to Get Rid of Those Dirty Rats

New York City

Dec. 22, 2014

"We can identify issues that may be conducive to rats, and then we look to do a training with as many people as we can on the block to explain each issue and help each building take the steps they need to take," says Bragdon.

She explains that the number one misconception is that rats are as big as cats, and so bold they are immune to anything you do. The other problem is that people assume rats are immune to poisoned rat bait or that their traps don't work. "What's really happening is that the rats would much rather eat garbage than rat bait," Bragdon says. "You have to remove the human food waste and aggressively treat the rat activity."

In 2013, there were more than 95,000 initial rat inspections, about 12 percent of which found active signs of rats, resulting in 19,600 visits from an exterminator.

RIP Rats

To find out where your block stands when it comes to rats, you can search the city's Rat Information Portal (we saw what they did there) to view rat inspections and treatments by address.

There's an interactive map to check out your neighborhood. At the "rat portal" you can download pamphlets, see maps of "rat indexing" showing where the city has identified problem areas by district, and even file rodent complaints.

"Rats only need a hole the size of a quarter to get into a building, so if they smell food there, they'll go in and try to eat," says Bragdon. "I'll go to buildings and see doors to the garbage areas propped open, and the rat can just walk on inside. People don't bother pest-proofing their doors and windows. If you look at most doors, there is a gap [at] the bottom that a rat can easily fit through."

It Takes a Village

Getting everyone in a building to do their bit to end a rat infestation — pest-proofing doors and keeping them shut, keeping the building clean, and so on — is all well and good, but it's not enough.

A super can spray and clean the sidewalk all he wants, but he also needs to clean up trash residue left behind by sanitation workers who come to collect the garbage. Even residue is a potential food source for rats, and the last thing you want to do after you're finally rid of them is to make a new buffet available to them. 


Adapted from "Rat Academy" by Jennifer V. Hughes (Habitat, December 2014)

For more, see our Site Map or join our Archive >> 

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?