Add this Critter rss news feed to your rss reader.
Rats have invaded the State House. The four-legged variety, that is.
Employees in the State House, which is where the Legislature meets, began noticing evidence of rats about two weeks ago in fifth-floor offices, House of Representatives spokesman Clay Redden said Wednesday. But the invasion wasn’t confirmed until a rat was caught on tape by a security camera about a week ago.
“Eek, germs, rats,” said clerk Ella Jackson, whose office on Wednesday still had a sticky trap meant to immobilize the furry creatures.
House employees tried to catch the rats themselves using the sticky traps, then turned to old-fashioned, spring-loaded traps baited with peanut butter.
The security video showed one rat being caught in a spring-trap baited outside the fifth-floor chamber where House members meet while in session, but because at least three or four more were suspected, a professional was called in, Redden said.
Clerk Julie Saint, who works in the same office as Jackson, said she reached around a cabinet that is secured above her desk and felt something sticky on her phone.
“It was a sticky trap, and it had long hair on it,” Saint said.
A rat apparently dislodged the trap while it was in her work area, leaving a residue. That’s when heavy-duty traps were brought in.
The rat infestation is not the first unusual occurrence at the State House this year.
In May, outraged legislators learned for the first time that 2 pounds of marijuana had been found in an abandoned backpack in a State House office more than two years earlier. State Rep. Alvin Holmes revealed that security camera videotapes from Dec. 1, 2006, showed a former House maintenance employee with the backpack a few hours before it was found. The employee was not charged and only a few House employees were notified of the incident.
Also in May, the State House basement was flooded by a heavy rainstorm, forcing the House and Senate to conduct business in the Capitol for the first time in 24 years.
Now it’s those dirty rats.
Doug Hartman, operator of Critter Control in Tuscaloosa, said rats usually come out at night and that if House officials saw four rats, he’s sure there are more.
“One pair of rats can do 800 offspring in a year,” Hartman said. “That’s once every 21 days.”
Rats are potential disease carriers, he said.
“They are nasty animals, for sure.”
Hartman said rats may have been driven from the State House basement by the flooding, making it to upper floors in search of food and safety through walls, electrical and fire control chasings, or the elevator shaft.
“They’re extremely good climbers,” Hartman said. “With nights getting cooler, they are starting to move.”
Credits: By Dana Beyerle - TuscaloosaNews.com