Storms are driving rodents into California homes

Guess who is coming for dinner? Rats and mice head into homes to escape the flooding rains and cold that accompanied the recent atmospheric river storms.

OAKLAND, Calif. - The recent storms and flooding aren't just sending Bay Area residents searching for shelter.

Alameda County Vector Control's Community Relations Coordinator, Daniel Wilson, says they have been getting calls about rats and other rodents since the atmospheric river storms started.

"We have gotten calls and people seeing rats getting flushed out of the storm drains," said Wilson, "Generally, we have Norway rats living in our sewers here in Oakland, Alameda, and a lot of the cities in Alameda County and San Francisco."

Wilson published a research paper in 2018 showing increases in calls about rodents during rainy years. Wilson says when storm sewers flood, rats and mice that live outside or in sewers can get desperate.


"Some of the worst things we've had is rats coming up the toilets into people's homes," said WIlson, who added that they've already had one call so far this year, "It's always a good idea to keep your lid down because it's slippery there, and they usually can't get out."

Rami David and his wife Jenna own Eco Pest Control in Oakland and say they've seen a jump in calls about rodents entering homes.

"They're chewing woods, we saw also metals, we saw also they're chewing garage doors, plastic," said David, "Digging is so easy for them. Especially under the foundation."

David says it's important for homeowners to clear the area around the building's foundation, so any holes are easily identifiable.


Gilbert Jaimez, who owns Ratman Pest and Termite Control, says homeowners should realize that rats and mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter.

"You see this little dark smudge mark? That's a rodent jumping up on here, squeezing through here and getting in this sub-area. Right here, you can see the rub mark there too. Their bodies are kind of greasy, and those are rub marks," said Jaimez.

Jaimez says with the storm, he's been flooded with calls this week for rodent control.

"Rats are always active, however, this last storm, I've been getting calls like 3-4 a day," said Jaimez, "They're just getting so cold and flooded with all this water, they're just trying to find shelter and the shelter they're trying to find it in people's homes."

"They're hearing them, they're seeing them. I've had people with rats on their kitchen counter eating their bananas, avocados," said Jaimez.

Contra Costa Vector Control's Public Affairs Director Nola Woods says they've received 26 requests so far this month for rat and mouse service. That's only four more calls than this time last year, but Woods says it is good for homeowners to rat-proof their homes as the winter continues.

Contra Costa and Alameda Vector Control offices offer free property inspections for residents to help them identify trouble spots.