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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — People living in a Cleveland Heights apartment building are dealing with unwelcome visitors.

“In the parking lots, when you get out of your car, rats everywhere,” said resident Camille Horton.

Rats have created a nuisance steps from the Coventry Village commercial district, leading some to wonder if recent business closures due to the coronavirus could be to blame.

“At night, when it gets a little cold, the rats will come upon under your car and chew your wires out,” Horton said.

Rodents, including rats, rely on food and waste, and with recent community-wide closures, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said some areas “have reported an increase in rodent activity as rodents search for new sources of food.”

“We haven’t seen a wave indicating rodents are attacking anything,” said John Carter, President and CEO of Cleveland-based Carter Exterminating Company.

Carter said rodents are attracted to food scents, including from dirty dumpsters.

“If you haven’t thoroughly cleaned and prepared to shut down for a while, you probably have a lot of food scent generating from your restaurant, and with no human traffic inside the restaurant for weeks at a time, rodents feel pretty comfortable,” Carter said.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health reports a decrease in rodent-related calls in Cleveland Heights this year.

Carter said rats typically come from sewer systems and keeping garbage cans clean, covered and away from your home can help to deter them.

“If you’re not attracting them, you’re not going to have them,” he said.

If you have a rat problem, Carter recommended calling a qualified exterminator and also alerting your local health department, which can bait sewer systems to get rid of the rats.

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