One December several years ago, a busy restaurant and pub near Albany, New York, called us at Catseye Pest Control about a rat infestation. The staff was seeing rats scurry around the restaurant on a daily basis, and it had to be fixed fast.
How Did the Rats Get into the Building?
When I arrived, it didn’t take long to figure out how the rats were getting into the building. In the rear of the restaurant, on the exterior of the building, there was an air conditioning unit near the dumpsters and grease trap. The rats were attracted to the grease and food scraps and were sneaking inside the restaurant through the opening where the air conditioning ductwork entered the building. Identifying the nesting site was also important to eliminating rodents, but the restaurant didn’t have a basement or attic, the usual places where they hide. I searched the entire restaurant and even checked above all the drop ceilings, but didn’t find any signs of nesting.
I went ahead and sealed the opening and started an aggressive trapping program. At first, I was trapping a few rats every day, but within a week the trapping had slowed and the staff were still seeing the devious rodents. With the entry/exit point sealed, there had to be a nesting site in the restaurant, but where?
Locating the Rats' Mystery Nesting Site
The restaurant manager had mentioned to me previously that employees would usually see the rats each night around closing time. So another pest technician and I came back to the restaurant at 1 a.m. after it was closed. We sat at the bar, watching and listening for the rats. Sure enough, we could hear the scratching and shuffling of little rodent feet, but it wasn’t until I saw a rat run under the bar and disappear that I knew we were on to something. I realized the sounds were coming from the boxed wood footrest of the bar and pried off the end cap with a screwdriver to have a look inside. As we shined our flashlights into the hollow space under the footrest, we could see dozens of little eyes looking back at us through piles of chicken wing bones and peanut shells.
We had found the nesting site.
Cleaning Up the Mess
Now that we knew where the rats were living and hoarding food, we set up traps all around the bar area. As I was laying the traps down, a rat actually ran up my arm, across my shoulders and down the other!
Once we had trapped all the rats, we cleaned and sanitized the nesting site. We filled a 30-gallon trashcan with all the food scraps the rats had collected from the garbage and stored in their nesting site. We couldn’t believe all the food, but it made so much sense.
It was definitely a tough job, but once we found the rats, it was just another “day at the office.”
Although the rats eluded us at first, in the end it was just a bunch of furry patrons who spent their nights going out for some salty peanuts and chicken wings. Can you blame 'em?