Capitol Hill Garden Club In Washington, D.C., Since 1952

Working Together to Control Rodents in Our Neighborhood

April 15, 2019 5:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Gerard Brown knows a thing or two about rats. He is the Program Manager of the Rodent and Vector Control Division, Dept. of Health. He has developed partnerships with both public and private entities in order to try to eradicate rodents and other vectors from our city.

If it seems as though rats are more of a problem these days, you are correct.  There are more rats in DC.  It's a combination of several factors: Mild winter have allowed rat populations to flourish.  We also have a 25% increase in food establishments in the city.  More food for the rats if care is not taken.  And more of the natural rat habitats are being disturbed with buildings for our greatly increase populations of residents.  This natural convergence of factors has allowed the rat population to increase, not just here but in other areas of the country.

Mr Brown's program is aimed at a couple of the factors listed above. They works with food establishments to contain discarded food and garbage.  They assist them to secure the containers, but also find them if they do not.  Citizens can also help by closing their trash containers securely, wait to put the trash out until 6 pm the night before, washing containers out with ammonia, and report trash can damage that allows rats access.  If the rats have damaged the bin, you can contact 311 and report the damage.  If it is confirmed that a rat has chewed the plastic bin, the city will replace it for free.  Mr Brown discourages citizens from using bird feeders, since rats will eat whatever falls to the ground.  Compost bins may also be a food source for rats.

The Rodent Control Program is also experimenting with pest control through birth control.  The liquid contraception is available in the black “rat boxes” for them to drink.  They started making it available last month, so this program is still being evaluated.

While Mr Brown works to eradicate rats, he also acknowledges their intelligence.  He recommends watching Rat Genius by National Geographic (  to fully appreciate the enemy we are up against.

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