Rat Infestation So Bad Children Stay Inside: Neighbors

Humans are exacerbating the problem, officials say

By Anthony Ponce
|  Thursday, Sep 16, 2010  |  Updated 7:48 PM CDT
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Residents of at least one South Side neighborhood say the rat problem has gotten so bad that some kids are staying inside to play. And when they do go outside, they sometimes chase the rats around at night for fun.

Residents of at least one South Side neighborhood say the rat problem has gotten so bad that some kids are staying inside to play. And when they do go outside, they sometimes chase the rats around at night for fun.

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Residents of at least one South Side neighborhood say the rat problem has gotten so bad that some kids are staying inside to play. And when they do go outside, they sometimes chase the rats around at night for fun.

Evidence of the rodents is everywhere: holes gnawed into garbage cans, chew marks on the sides of garages and burrows in the ground.

"I've been here for 29 years and I've never seen the rats as bad as they are now," said Englewood resident Helen Doss.

It seems like every neighbor there has had sightings.

"I have a 4-year-old that has to stay in the house because she can't get out, enjoy the sandbox or her swing or anything because the rats are running all around," said resident Margaret Williams.

The situation has some people who live there angry; not so much at the city, but at their own neighbors. There's no shortage of loose garbage, trash containers that aren't closed tight and dog feces that hasn't been picked up on the 7100 block of South Wolcott Avenue. All of those things are factors contributing to the problem.

"Rats will eat anything. They'll eat uncontained garbage. They'll eat dog feces and in Chicago there are a lot of dogs where the feces aren't cleaned up by the residents. They will eat fruit from fruit trees," said Matt Smith the Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation.

Crews were out Thursday burying rat poison in and around multiple nests throughout the block. But unless neighbors are able to clean up and help eliminate where rats can nest and cut off the food supply, they shouldn't expect things to improve.

"We can do that. We can do that repeatedly. But it's only part of the solutions. And the other part of the solution lies with the residents working with us," said Smith.

Anyone with a rat problem they need help solving can call 311, the city's non-emergency support and services number. Someone from rodent control can arrange and inspection and offer solutions.

They may also replace your trash container if a rat has chewed a hole in it.

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