WEST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There’s a pesky problem in a suburban neighborhood where summer fun is being interrupted by an infestation of rats.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, health inspectors were going door to door on Kingsland Avenue in West Islip, a manicured block where unwelcome visitors have mysteriously taken up residence.
“We have a rat infestation,” Frank Edwards said.
Edwards counted at least 20 rats in recent weeks between his and his neighbor’s yard. Thanks to traps the rats have met a decisive fate.
“We shouldn’t have rats, simple as that. We don’t know where they’re coming from. We didn’t cause any problem. They are this darn big, and some of them are bigger,” Edwards said.
Big and unnerving.
“It’s bad, it’s really bad. With rats you don’t know what they are carrying. For people who have little pets, they are afraid,” Winifred Rooney said.
Neighbors don’t know where the rats came from.
“Makes me feel a little eerie because everyone is clean. It’s not like we have any garbage lying around,” Sandy DiPietro said.
Suffolk County health officials said chances are they came from another yard with a food supply that’s recently dried up. Displaced rodents scouring for food are drawn to surprisingly common backyard items.
Outdoor dog food bowls, fruits and vegetables rotting on the ground, BBQ drippings, even bird seed is an invitation to rats.
“You’re going to find rats no matter where you are,” Stephen Kane, Suffolk County Health Department, said.
Kane said it’s up to homeowners to clean up.
“Don’t feed your pets outside, keep your garbage covered at all times, clean up any dog or animal waste in the yard,” he said.
In the meantime, the health department is distributing handbooks informing residents how to get rid of rats.
They also said it’s okay to rat out your neighbor if you think the rodents are coming from unsanitary property.
A spokesman for Suffolk County said it’s department of public works is not performing any work in the area that would have led to the rat migration.
“The Suffolk county Dept of Public Works is not performing any work in the area that would have led to a rat surface migration. The Dept. of Health services deployed an inspector this morning as a matter of general course to provide education to residents in preventing and eliminating rodent infestations,” county spokesman Jason Elan said.