Garbage and recycling totes are one tool for combatting rodent problems, but they aren't the be-all end-all, according to Peter Tripi, senior public health sanitarian for the county Department of Health.
Rats need food and shelter, and many times humans give it to them unknowingly.
There's a lot you can do to prevent rats from becoming a problem inside and outside your home. Here are some steps should you take to reduce the chances of having a rat problem, according to the county health department:
* Keep a tight lid on garbage cans at all times.
* Check your home's foundation and seal any holes.
* Don't feed your pets outside. If you have to, immediately remove any uneaten food and store the food in rat-proof containers.
* Clean up pet waste daily in and around your yard.
* Eliminate sources of water.
* Remove trash from your yard, especially keeping clean the areas under decks, behind steps or other places rats may find shelter.
* Don't let bird seed accumulate on the ground below your bird feeder. All bird feeding should be halted in any neighborhood with a rat problem.
* Keep any piles of wood or other stored materials away from walls and above ground at least 18 inches.
* Windows and doors should close tightly and basement windows should have heavy screening on them.
* Floor drains should be fastened to the floor to prevent rats from coming up through the sewer.
* Use a rodent-proof enclosure for all composting.
The actions of one house in a neighborhood can have a large effect on whether rats make their home there, Tripi said.
"We need people to be community-minded," he said.