Section 10-164 of the Henrico County Code requires property owners to maintain their property in a rat-free condition.

How rats enter your home…

  • Chimneys
  • Roof ventilation
  • Gable vents
  • Where electric or phone wires enter
  • Overhanging tree branches
  • Broken or open doors
  • Torn window screens
  • Crawl spaces under houses
  • Damaged walls or floors
  • Broken sewer pipes
  • Where pipes enter
  • Rotted or damaged wood

Stats about rats

It is difficult to rat-proof a structure without first knowing the capabilities of rats. When rat proofing, remember rats are acrobats! Here are some of the amazing things rats can do:

  • Reach about 13 inches in length
  • Gain entrance through openings as small as only 1/2 inch square
  • Walk horizontal wires and climb vertical wires
  • Climb the outside of vertical pipes and conduits of any size if they are within 3 inches of a wall
  • Crawl horizontally on any type of pipe or conduit
  • Jump vertically as high as 36 inches from a horizontal surface
  • Jump horizontally 48 inches on a flat surface
  • Jump horizontally at least 8 feet from an elevation of 15 feet
  • Drop 50 feet and survive
  • Burrow vertically in the earth to a depth of 4 feet
  • Climb brick or other rough exterior walls that offer footholds to gain access to upper stories of structures
  • Climb vines, shrubs, and trees, or travel along telephone or power lines to gain access to upper floors or buildings
  • Swim as far as 1/2 mile, dive through water plumbing traps, and travel in sewer lines – even against substantial water currents
  • Gnaw through a wide variety of materials, including lead sheeting, sun-dried adobe brick, cinder block and aluminum sheeting

How you can prevent rat problems

Suburban areas are ideal habitats for rats. Many things that are a part of our lifestyles can increase rat problems. Below are some things you can do to prevent rats from invading you home and neighborhood.

  • Remove sources of food. One ounce of dry dog food is all a rat requires per day.
  • Pick up you pet’s droppings. Rats can subsist on dog droppings when no other food is available. After watering and feeding your pets, remove bowls and store food in a metal container.
  • Don’t put bread or seed on the ground. If you feed squirrels or birds, you may also be feeding the rats.
  • Use metal trashcans with lids. Rats can gnaw through plastic garbage cans.
  • Harvest vegetable gardens as soon as they are ripe.
  • Remove sources of water (bird baths, pet water bowls, standing water in splash basins, etc.) Rats require only 1/2 to 1 ounce of water day
  • Remove rat shelters. Keep wood piles elevated 12-18 inches away from walls. Steps leading into a house should be masonry or concrete. If they are made of wood, keep the space underneath bare.

Poisoning and trapping alone cannot control rats. If you have an infestation of rats, you must remove all sources of food, water and harborage for effective control.

Properties with rat problems frequently have other ordinance violations. When you call to report a rat problem, advising the County Staff to the following will help the inspector prepare to address all concerns on the property:

  • Is the property vacant or occupied?
  • Are there any inoperable or unlicensed vehicles or trailers on the property?
  • Is there any trash, garbage or litter on the property that is not stored in a covered, watertight container?