Monster rats in West Hartford?!?

“Lots and lots of rats” are invading the Charter Oak neighborhood in Elmwood, according to today’s Hartford Courant.

“A rat problem that resulted in occasional complaints to health officials has spread over the past 18 months, leading officials to step up efforts to contain the rodents, which Mayor Scott Slifka called a public health risk,” the story said.

“As many as 400 homes in the Charter Oak neighborhood in the South End of town are facing a rodent invasion and residents, running out of solutions, are pleading with the town for help,” the story continued.

Some residents told town officials last night “they were afraid to walk out at night because of the rats. Others said their pets were growing afraid of the rodents – largely brown Norway rats that can measure up to 18 inches from head to tail,” the story said.

Health officials cited 88 “serious offenders” whose failure to keep their garbage secure has helped draw the rats to town, a number that’s frighteningly high. I mean, do you really need inspectors to tell you to keep your trash contained when there are monster rats about?

“To help eradicate the rats, the town is looking to stage a ‘mass-kill’ in mid-September. Town Manager James Francis said the project could cost the town roughly $250,000 and residents may have to pay between $100 and $200 – which could be reimbursed – as part of neighborhood-wide project. Specific costs, dates and details of the mass-kill plan are pending,” the story said.

You have to love it. We have no money for Middle School Quest but we’re devoting a quarter million to killing rats. So much for our image, eh?



Filed under Charter Oak, Elmwood, Health, News, Public safety, rats

22 responses to “Monster rats in West Hartford?!?

  1. turtle

    Let’s see, that’s $2840.00+ per serious offender. Pony up, Slob Squad!

  2. EJ

    The WHTA was smeeling rats in Town Hall last spring. LOLOL

  3. Elmwoodian

    Yeah, I was following this before it hit the paper this morning as there was a community meeting a few weeks ago and some mailers went out as well. Word has it that the majority of the rat population came about b/c of the Wal-mart development just over the border in Hartford. There was a watercourse/wetland on that plot and it appears that the rats were driven away by the construction and migrated to the next nearest wetland/watercourse, which was unfortunately the St. Augustine Brook. Not exactly great PR for Elmwood!

    (P.S. Their reproductive cycle is two weeks! Ick!)

  4. EJ

    BTW, Elmwood isn’t the only area affected. Keep your eyes open in The Center of Town

    Last year we spotted one in our back yard. we flushed it out and our dog killed it. The best we can figure all the restaurantts in the center are attracting them and then they spread out.

  5. I was speaking with another agent at my office about this the other day. She met with an exterminator for an insect issue and he was telling her about the recent deluge of rats around town.

    I’ve also seen rats in the morning on Farmington Ave. in WH when I’m out for my jog, so I wouldn’t say it’s just an issue in Elmwood.

  6. turtle

    OK, who volunteers to track down Nosferatu and drive a stake in his heart?

  7. Harry Captain

    It’s my understanding that the rat eradication will be paid for by Community Development Block Grant funds, which are federal monies (HUD) and subject to limitations.

    Thus, we’re NOT using WH Taxpayer money that could otherwise have gone to other purposes (like Quest).

  8. John Hardy

    Rat traps can be spotted around some of the buildings in Bishops Corner as well. Considering the condition of particularly the rear of some of those buildings, that should come as no surprise.

  9. Oh, great.
    The rats are everywhere.
    I guess I should be glad there’s a mean cat next door.

  10. New to WH

    In my old neighborhood — just outside of Washington, DC — we were shocked to find that there were rats living on our property. We had exterminators come out, our trash was always in sealed barrels, no sources of food were left exposed, and eventually we stopped seeing them. Unfortunately we learned that no matter what you do as an individual, you will never get rid of rats unless the entire neighborhood acts together: a month later we saw a cat leave the yard of our neighbor across the street with a huge rat in its mouth. (Made me wish we had more cats around.) That neighbor had dogs and frequently left pet food outside. They also had bird feeders and left seed in a small, open out-building. Needless to say, they had a serious rat problem, which meant everyone on our street did as well.

    If the city and Elmwood neighborhood have any hope of controlling the problem, the city is going to have to act decisively by enforcing the citations referenced in the article. If the problems spreads throughout West Hartford, there will be no way to turn back the clock.

    While West Hartford is not New York , there are a couple of great articles from the New York Times on the ability of rats to thrive around humans. A few facts from those articles:

    Most New York rats die in about a year. But they leave plenty of descendants. They’re sexually mature in 8 to 12 weeks and can produce a litter of five to seven babies every couple of months.

    Norway rats live in clans that typically comprise a male, five or six females and their offspring. Each clan will stake out a territory of a few thousand square feet.

    The year of the article, rats bit 157 people in NY. That same year, people bit people 1,100 times!

  11. St. Gianna

    This really is not a new problem in West Hartford. One year ago a co-worker who lives in the Park Rd./Smith School area had a meeting with Scott Slifka about the rat problem in her neighborhood. She presented him with signatures of dozens of her neighbors attesting to the problem. She brought photos of the rats in her backyard and on her deck and told him stories of how her large retriever was afraid to go into the backyard because of the rats. She showed him photos of how some residents on the street put their trash out (in plastic bags which are then chewed through by the rats and left with garbage spilling out into the street). She told him how some immigrant families on the street cook outside in their backyards and leave pots of food out all night for rats to feast on.

    The mayor promised her last fall that he will address this problem. Given the rats’ reproductive cycle and the inactivity of Town Hall on this issue, how many more rats have been produced since she met with him last year? A thousand, 10,000? We will never know, but it seems to me that this should have been dealt with more swiftly at least one year ago.

    What could have been contained in one area of town, will now have to be fought throughout town, or at least in all the business areas of town. Everyone will have to get on board with this, i.e., the proper way to store garbage, picking up bird seed that spills from feeders, not leaving dog or cat food outside etc.

    As an addendum, when I was a teen babysitting for a family on Westwood Rd. about 30 years ago, I went down to the basement of the house one afternoon to retrieve something, and to my horror saw two beady little eyes staring at me! I screamed and this huge rat (definitely a Norway rat, big, fat and greasy looking) ran by me into another part of the basement. When I later told the homeowner about it, she laughed at me saying “This part of town doesn’t have rats!” Well the Hartford Golf Club was just down the street, and anyplace there is food and garbage is going to attract rats!

  12. Joe Visconti

    Hopefully the new Trash Containers with attached lids will be utilized to help limit the ability of rats to knock off lids as they now do ( if lids are even used now) from smaller trash cans. And many thought a Pawn shop on Park Road would be a nuisance.
    You dirty rat!

  13. As someone that lives in Hartford and utilizes the 95gal trash container on a weekly basis, don’t count on it. Nearly every person in my neighborhood has a hole about 4″ in diameter chewed in it. Let’s just say that squirrels are industrious. And if squirrels can get in, so can rats.

  14. And I thought they moved Town Hall to Elmwood without telling us and those rats ran wild. Now I learn they are all over town. Who woulda thunk it. I just wonder if the rat infestation happened to come along with the construction of BBS. Sounds right to me.

  15. Elmwoodian

    Uch, I just found another one this morning (OK, the dog found it.) [He stops and shudders.]

  16. Gary Reger

    I just got back from new student/parent orientation at Hall High, and the principal Don Slater told us that Hall had a huge rat problem this summer. I think he said they spent $6000 on eraducation measures.

  17. Elmwoodian

    Gary, I take some comfort (cold comfort, mind you) in knowing that at least it’s not solely an “Elwood problem.” Got enough issues here thanks! Well, the wider it is, hopefully the larger the outcry and the more extensive the response.

  18. Anne Messios

    Too bad Park Road is not part of Elmwood, and the rats are caused by Trout Brook. Everyone has an opinion but no one really knows what they are talking about.

  19. Anne Messios

    Too bad Charter Oak is not part of Elmwood. Everyone has an opinion but no one really knows what they are talking about.

  20. Elmwoodian

    Actually, the rats are using the St. Augustine Brook as their locus. The cause could be any number of things, including migration from the Trout Brook, but also migration from the Wal-mart plaza, which used to have a wetland/watercourse on it.

    Also, I’m pretty sure Charter Oak is part of Elmwood. The Charter Oak school district extends down to the corner of New Britain and South Quaker. Not sure who the governing authority would be to check that fact, but from everything I can see, Elmwood isn’t just south of New Britain Ave.

    Dr. Liftig? A little help?

  21. Rick Liftig

    Ich bin ein Elmwoodian?

    There’s no official ‘Elmwood’ designation. I know of several people who believe that Elmwood is only that area to the East of South Main and West of the Railroad bridge (adjacent to NBA)! (and that folks beyond those boundaries aren’t truly from Elmwood)

    Some time ago, we had a ‘real’ Elmwood Post Office and the zip code 06110 pretty much described Elmwood. That covers just about any neighborhood south of the highway.

    Of course, as far as these rats go —- we all agree that they’re in the Charter Oak neighborhood!

    (grinning, ducking and running!)



  22. Elmwoodian

    You better watch it, or instead of eradication we’ll start doing a little catch and release from Charter Oak to Elmwood Center! 😉

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