Royal Oak man trapping rats, calls on residents to take part in anti-rat campaign

Macomb News Daily
By Michael P. McConnell,

Ron Novak of Royal Oak is on a quest to eliminate rats in his neighborhood and is calling on others to do the same. Over the past couple of weeks, 12 rats have died in traps Novak set in his backyard. On his evening walks with his dog he is spotting rats and rat tracks in the snow. Last week he came upon a pack of rats beneath a neighbor’s bird feeder just north of Vinsetta.

“They dashed away when I disturbed their banquet,” Novak said. “There were so many rats that all of the snow was packed down in a 5-foot radius under the bird feeder. That’s when I realized we are promoting (rat) activities and are not aware of it.”

Eradicating rats is not the job of the city, and residents need to take responsibility and eliminate the harborage and food sources that allow the rodents to thrive, Novak said.

“Right now is a good time to act because you can see where their habitat is by following their trails in the snow,” he said.

Novak quickly learned one thing — rats are smart.

During the first week of rat trapping he baited his four traps with peanut butter and recorded steady kills. After a week it dropped off and the peanut butter got eaten without setting the traps off.

“They were on to me, they knew my strategy,” Novak said. “I ended up gluing peanuts to the traps so they would have to jiggle them and set the trap off. Whamo! We started getting them again.”

In 2012, Royal Oak and other south Oakland County cities reported an increase in rat sightings that later waned.

“It was going good for a few years,” said Novak, who lives on Houstonia, northwest of 12 Mile and Main. “But the rats have come back in force.”

Novak started trapping rats in the backyard of his Royal Oak home shortly after his wife saw what she thought was a small Chihuahua run across the driveway in the pre-dawn darkness as she left for work. Novak checked it out when he got home from work and followed a set of rat tracks that led to where he had pool equipment stored in a shed in the backyard. Rats had burrowed beneath where the equipment is stored, building a complex nest.

“We do not have a dirty backyard and always pick up the dog’s poop, but still the rats set up residency here,” he said. “Here we are in a lovely community and there are rats here.”

Indeed. During the increased rat sightings of 2012, southeast Oakland County cities such as Hazel Park, Pleasant Ridge, Ferndale, Oak Park, Berkley and Royal Oak were affected. Some attributed it to the dry summer and large road projects that disturbed the rat population and made the rodents come out during the day.

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For professional rat trapping and rat removal services, please call (248) 889-4977