The ways Indy battles rats: weapons, clean alleys and cats

Rats in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Many alleys in Marion County are lined with open trash cans, littered with old furniture, and bordered with overgrown lawns and abandoned buildings.

Those are the necessities of life for rats.

Chris Straab, a neighborhood activist and block captain for Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, said, “Well, we have rats anywhere we have a sanitation issue. There are so many little pieces to the puzzle that lead to an overall health problem.” 

One of Straab’s priorities is cleaning the alleys and getting rid of rats … the right way. 

“Unfortunately, we are finding that some of our neighbors tend to shoot at the rats, which we highly disagree with. That is technically ‘criminal recklessness,’ but we understand that people don’t want the rats but shooting at them is not the answer.”

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AJ Steele is one of those people that has, in a small way, armed himself against the rats.

“I can’t do mice and rats. I’m a big guy but I can’t do mice and rats or vermin,” Steele said.

A few of his neighbors are taking action. “People have been arming with BB guns. I have a slingshot. People have real guns. There is an infestation out here.”

An area of the east side, south of 10th Street and east of Woodruff Place, is going through redevelopment. Many of the homes around Steele are either new or have been remodeled. He said the rats move from one abandoned house to the next.

“I have holes around my house, that’s how they get in. Because they go from one house, they’re doing construction, or they come to my house, and then they’ll leave my house — with my cat chasing them (and) don’t eat them — and they’ll go the next house, and then they’ll bomb them and they will go to the next house down the street.”

The Marion County Public Health Department said the best ways to keep rats from infesting a home:

  • Keep the yard, outbuildings and home in good repair.
  • Remove trash and standing water from the property.
  • Remove potential food sources, including dog and cat food, from the yard.

In some cases, the health department said it will put rat bait on private property.