SALEM, Ore. — Dozens of very unwelcome visitors have taken over the state’s human services building in Salem, causing concern for many employees.
A letter was sent out to all employees alerting them of a rat infestation and advising employees how they can do their part, to help get rid of the problem.
The first sign of the problem came in March with reports of hearing noise in the ceiling.
A few months later came the first sighting, and as of Tuesday, 36 rats have been caught.
“You hear noises on the other side of a desk like papers ruffling or something down towards the floor and you’re looking down there thinking oh here they come,” said Human Services Employee Cheree Kline.
The roof rats caught have all been second and third generation, meaning the rodents of breeding age are still out there.
“We’re catching the juveniles and we’re not catching the adults so that means the adults are smarter, they’re not going into the traps, they’re sending their kids in instead,” said Operations Manager Randy Gengler for the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.
Employees now have strict rules to help get rid of the rodents, including getting rid of all food, drinks, plants, and trash daily.
“They’re just asking that we keep everything in closed containers, bring enough food for the day, don’t leave a lot of stuff laying out, no candy dishes, things like that,” said Human Services Employee Matt Bighouse.
Instead of using poison, the idea is to eliminate all of their food and water source so that the rats will be forced to crawl inside the dozens of snap traps set up all around the building.
Some employees have their own solution.
“Bring in a couple of cats, have them sit around the desks,” Bighouse said.
Although the rats mainly come out at night, as you can imagine, some employees are still pretty unnerved just knowing they’re there.
“I am scared to death of rats, I’m petrified. Get them out of here, bomb the place, because I have nightmares, I cannot stand rats,” said Human Services Employee Carol O’Neill.
“Rats carry a lot of diseases and so what are they running around on, what are they touching, you know, are we breathing their feces, is there health issues that’s going on,” said Human Services Employee Joni Killgore.
State officials say it will likely be a couple of months before they know if they’ve gotten all of the rats out, but some employees say they hope they’ll have that assurance much sooner.