City Starts Program to Rid Neighborhoods of Rats

Run-down houses will be targeted for rat baiting.
Run-down houses will be targeted for rat baiting.

Rodents are the last thing most people want to see scurrying around their houses, but the nasty critters have become a problem in parts of the City of Savannah. And unfortunately, it's their neighbors who are to blame. Now the city is doing something about about it.

The solution involves killing rodents before they have a chance to start invading the neighborhood. And that's not all; they are also issuing a warning to homeowners.

When Operation Clean Sweep started on Savannah's west side, crews picked up tons of garbage and debris. But as they say, one person's trash is another person's--or in this case rodent's--treasure.

"We found that overgrown lots and abandoned cars that were being moved were also harboring rodents and those were running into people's homes and that's not what I call a clean sweep," said alderman-at-large Jeff Felser.

They're running into clean homes, like Pamela Oglesby's. "The droppings, they're in up under our cabinet, and I am assuming there must be an opening in the house."

And Oglesby is faced with a double whammy. She is surrounded by vacant houses. The only thing occupying them are rats. The city has cleaned two of the four, which is great except for one thing: the rats found a new home in her house.

"It only happened after they bothered the two properties down the street," Oglesby said.

So Felser helped create a new rat abatement program. "If there's a house scheduled for demolition like this one across the street, now has to be baited two weeks before demolition," he explained. "So when it is demolished rodents aren't going into the neighborhood properties."

And for the first time, city inspectors will be searching for rats in these vacant or dilapidated properties, and if they find them, the property owners will be held accountable. "If the property is not cleaned up, they will be subject to the city taking on the responsibility and payment will be put on the citizen's bill," said Felser.

Inspections will start on Monday. And the city will also be starting a rodent education program, reminding people how to keep rodents away from their house with simple tips like closing garbage cans and keeping trash from surrounding their houses.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro,