They’re Here To Stay: Controlling Rats with Education, Money and Garlic

Photo: Joey’s Park, ground zero for rat removal.

Take equal parts garlic and white pepper then add a dash of paprika and mix.

Sounds like an excellent dry marinade you can rub on chicken or steak before grilling to give the meat a bit of a punch.

In fact, the mixture is an excellent organic rat repellant. That’s correct: rat repellant. 

That spicy recipe is currently being pushed into the rodent lairs under Joey’s Park in the Winn Brook neighborhood, according to Jay Marcotte, the town’s Department of Public Works director as he came to update the Belmont Board of Selectmen of his department’s battle with the rodents.

The popular playground adjacent to the Winn Brook Elementary School has been closed for the past fortnight after workers discovered the vermin living in and around the play structure.

Currently, the town is seeking “a safe and swift resolution to the issue,” said Wesley Chin, Belmont’s Health Department director,

Marcotte said he decided to approve a non-chemical approach – at the cost of $2,300 – as “the safest possible” method as the playground is very popular with children and families from around town. The natural repellant that comes in a gel is intended to irritate the rats’ skin which will hopefully have them scurry into one of the 40 traps laid out in the park.

The park will stay closed for another three weeks when the firm applying the solution believes the job will be complete, said Marcotte.

Even if this method does the job in the Winn Brook neighborhood, Belmont will not be as fortunate as the Town of Hamlin which found a pied piper to drive off the pests – and unfortunately a large segment of the German town’s school-aged population – as the rodents have been seen congregating near the port-a-potties at Town Field, on Beech Street, and along Pleasant Street, said Chin.

“They’re not going away,” said Dr. David Alper of the town’s Health Board, advising the board to create a new line item in the upcoming fiscal 2018 budget to tackle the rat issue in the future.

“Short money for long-term gain,” said Alper.

The town will expand its current rat removal campaign in all of the town’s parks which will include removing trash cans from those public spaces to rid the rodents of their food source, said Marcotte.

But the most effective method of controlling the rodent issue is information and data, including calling the Health Department when rats are found so the town can track their migration.

“The best tool is educating the public,” said Alper.

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  1. C. says

    The surrounding towns have big problem too. Cambridge is to be expected, but in the last two months I’ve seen a group of rats in North Waltham and three dead rats in Arlington Heights.

  2. Rebecca says

    I would like to encourage Belmont to consider small washrooms with plumbing for highly-trafficked parks like Joey’s Park and Town Field. This would be an investment, but it is quite distasteful to think about taking your child into a port-a-potty frequented by rats. Having clean washrooms and adequately clearing waste though the sewage system could also benefit everyone by attracting fewer rats to the parks. Maybe we could encourage a public-private partnership and ask for donations? I would certainly “buy a tile” in a washroom in each park.

  3. J. says

    … would also be nice if the Rec Dept actually swapped out the mulch, etc once in a while… The town has a “thing” about upkeep, which is why the veteran’s memorial at Clay Pit is an eyesore.

    • Jonathan says

      The Rec Dept works hard. They don’t have a “thing” about upkeep, they have a lack of money, like most towns our size that don’t have a huge business base to tax (e.g. Lexington) or two world-class universities to extort (i.e. Cambridge).

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