They're Back

Published by Chris Wangler - June 5, 2020.

And the city is warning residents that rats might be heading to your bird feeder to feast on seed shaken to the ground.

As you’re probably aware, Waltham has a recurring rat problem, and it’s starting up again.

“We’re just starting to get calls now,” said Tom Creonte of the Waltham Health Department. He said he’s received 20-25 calls in the last couple weeks.

In previous years, the problem got so bad that the city declared a public health emergency.

The issue doesn’t look quite as serious this year, but COVID-19 has changed everything, requiring new thinking.

There’s been less restaurant and office trash, for instance. And rats might be wandering around in search of food because dumpsters are being monitored more carefully.

These opportunistic feeders can fit through dumpster drain holes to access huge buffets of rotting trash.

But Creonte said those drain holes have been plugged citywide, including at Garden Crest, which replaced all its dumpsters.

With rats looking elsewhere, backyard bird feeders provide plenty of seed shaken loose by aggressive avians. Creonte suggested residents hold off using bird feeders until the winter, when birds really need the seed.

Explanations for Waltham’s recurring rat problem vary, including mild winters and habitat disruption caused by construction.

Whatever the cause, health officials maintain that the best thing residents can do is to comply with a requirement to place all trash in rigid plastic barrels with attached lids, not out in flimsy bags on the street corner.

Fines for trash left out in bags start at $50 and rise to $100.

But instead of fines, Creonte said he’d rather tell homeowners and renters to spend the cash on sturdy plastic trash barrels.

Courtesy photo