There are numerous examples of mild winters leading to a boom in rat populations. In 2002, the city of Boston was overrun with rats; thanks to a series of mild New England winters, instead of some 30 percent of rats dying off in frigid cold, only about 5 percent succumbed, according to the Boston Phoenix newspaper (http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents/02194425.htm).
A 2009 article in the UK Guardian newspaper reports the worst rat infestation in 30 years, due to a run of mild winters, and warns consumers that the overpopulation of rats, combined with a bumper wheat crop could increase the danger of rodent droppings in whole-grain breads. Foods made with whole grain flour were more susceptible to rat droppings, the article stated, because they are less processed than goods made with white flour.
Perhaps the most amusing—if alarming—example of rats gone wild was the 2002 Los Angeles Times article reporting that rats seemed drawn to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. One well-to-do Beverly Hills doctor and his party guests were horrified to discover three rats helping themselves to his outdoor buffet. Just a few days later, on a warm Saturday afternoon, the physician found five rats swimming in his marble pool. The culprit: several mild Southern California winters in a row, coupled with near-drought conditions (similar to recent climate conditions in our Sacramento region) that drove the rats from fields and vacant lots into the lush, well-watered gardens and patios of upscale L.A. (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/17/us/up-down-in-and-out-in-beverly-hills-rats.html?pagewanted=1)
While such tales may make us laugh, the fact is that rats pose a danger to our homes, families and businesses and to the public health. In addition to carrying diseases and contaminating foodstuffs, rats pose a fire hazard due to their constant gnawing.
Rat infestations are a stubborn pest control problem best left to licensed and trained pest control professionals. To learn more about rats and other rodents and how to prevent infestations, read our blog post at http://earthguardpest.com/blog/?p=21 or give us a call at 916-457-7605!