LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Cooler temperatures creeping into the Las Vegas valley may mean more critters may try to find shelter and comfort in your home, especially rats.
Pest control experts tell 13 Action News they've seen a rise in rodent infestations over the past few weeks. They say it's a problem you need to deal with quickly and professionally or else it can spread to an entire neighborhood.
For 15 years Vicki Parker lived peacefully in her home in Henderson.
"We have lived in this house since 2004. We have never had any problems," said Parker.
Until about five weeks ago when certain snacks started disappearing and her dog dragged in a dead rat.
"That was kind of scary because then it was like, 'How am I going to get this thing out of my house?'"
Since then, she's caught and removed at least eight more rats, and that's not counting her neighbors.
"My one neighbor caught seven. The people on the side caught two. The people who just moved out over here said they had problems, and the people on the other side had to have an exclusion done," said Parker, pointing to several of her neighbors' homes.
At first, Parker says she worried about her pups and what others would think.
"I was worried they were going to carry some sort of disease into my house and be it me [who] gets it or my two dogs. I was very concerned about that. If someone came to my house and saw a rat run across the floor, they would think I was absolutely the dirtiest person in the world. I think that was a big concern," said Parker.
But Parker's problem quickly became personal.
"The fear of waking up with a mouse or a rat on you is very scary. I’m sleeping two hours a night for the last five weeks. Yeah, it’s horrible," said Parker.
Trent English, an inspector with Truly Nolen, has been tasked with removing Parker's rats. He says there are three telltale signs you may have rodents running rampant through your home.
"Debris and food and droppings," said English, describing the scene left behind by the rats in Parker's home.
English blames cooler temperatures for the recent rise in rat sightings.
"It’s been pretty active these past couple weeks. But as the cooler weather approaches, these rats don’t like being vulnerable out in the cold. They find points of entry on the ground level, like the doggie door or garages, rooftops," said English.
Despite catching nine rats by herself, Parker says she's learned it's a job for the professionals.
"Especially if you’re alone and it happens, don’t be afraid to call an expert and I highly recommend Truly Nolen. But make sure you call your exterminator and tell them right off the bat. Don’t decide that you can take care of it because mine has really escalated into a bigger thing," said Parker.
There are alternatives to deter rodents before they become a bigger problem. Christi Dineff is the director of life-saving programs at the Animal Foundation, including the "working cat program."
"I like to call it 'mouse keeping' and these cats are cats that wouldn't otherwise have a very good outcome from the shelter," said Dineff.
Dineff says working cats may not make the best house pets, but they're highly-skilled hunters that will send rodents running away.
"Even just the smell of cats wards off rats and other rodents, and so just having a cat around in your area, your yard, or on your farm, is really helpful in keeping those rodents away," said Dineff.
Dineff add these cats aren't just a great addition for homes. They're also great for religious buildings, businesses, and even resorts. Plus, they're free to adopt.