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Rat infestations causing damage to Outer Banks homes, buildings

Mike McGee, owner of The Gentleman Plumber in Kill Devil Hills, has been a plumber in the Outer Banks for thirty years, and he’s never seen a rat problem this bad in his career.

According to McGee, large rats are finding their way into homes primarily through outside storage rooms. They are getting into the underpinning of a house and chewing water lines, plumbing and electrical work. “They get into water lines for the water,” McGee explained. “Anything else they chew is to sharpen their teeth.” Damage can cost anywhere between $300 and $2000, McGee advised.

Late winter is the worst time of year for rat infestation, when the vermin seek warmer shelter inside houses. McGee said that recently, he was taking two to three calls a day from Duck to South Nags Head to handle plumbing leaks caused by rats. One customer had 22 leaks in her home. Rats often travel in groups, so if you suspect a rat, chances are there are more than one.

Rodent droppings can transmit disease, which can be harmful to people as well as household pets. The best thing to do, according to McGee, is to keep your house sealed up, keep the underpinnings sealed and if you hear or see evidence of a rat, contact a professional. “Sometimes tourists will come in the summer and think there’s a septic problem, and we’ll find a dead rat in the duct work,” McGee said.

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