Rat Infestation Has Chelmsford, Massachusetts Residents Seeing Red

Residents in a Chelmsford, Mass. neighborhood say their neighbors chickens are causing a rat infestation

An infestation of rats in a Chelmsford, Massachusetts neighborhood has some neighbors seeing red.

"We have been inundated with rats," said Dottie Jones, who claims to have killed 21 rats on her property since the beginning of March. "They're taking over the neighborhood."

Residents attended a Board of Selectmen's meeting Monday night to discuss the issue on Buckman Drive where they said the source of the rats is due to one property owner being negligent with his chickens.

One man said rats chased his daughters back into their cars.

"This is a very, very serious health issue," said one neighbor.

"Five to six rats. Running through my backyard," added another.

Neighbors said the problem got worse once the weather warmed up.

They aren't complaining about the shredded trash bags or the full garbage bins left outside, but the chickens themselves. 

"We think there's a problem with chickens," said one neighbor.

The seven chickens live in a coop in Amar Suhail's backyard. 

"I can't see them causing this big neighborhood problem," Suhail said.

He says he saw rats before his family bought the chickens.

"The chickens have become a focal point of (the issue)," Rich Day, with the town's Board of Health, said. 

According to Day, the property where the chickens live has been cleaned up recently, but the food, water, and shelter create the perfect scenario for a rat population to take off.

The rodents are known to populate quickly and can spread diseases.

"(Rats have) always been there a long time, will always be there, but it needs to be managed," Day said.

Suhail said an exterminator came in and told him his family couldn't be the cause of the rat problem for the whole neighborhood.

"I think it's mainly the cause of misunderstanding and I think a lack of communication that all sides could have been better at," said Suhail.

Day said the owner of the house where the chickens live will be cited for having the birds without a permit.

The fine is $300 per day until they are gone.

Neighbors have already started hiring their own exterminators.

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