Watertown Residents Urged to Keep Halloween Pumpkins Inside to Prevent More Rats

"Everyone sees it as decoration. No one sees it as food or source of food for rats," Watertown Director of Public Health Larry Ramdin said of pumpkins.

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You may have heard about the rats in Boston and Cambridge. Now you can add Watertown to the list of Massachusetts communities dealing with this particular rodent problem.

Watertown's director of public health says food sources for rats evaporated when restaurants shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

Those rats didn't magically disappear during that time, though, Larry Ramdin said, they just moved in next door.

"They used to crawl out of the walls, but I had them fix the issue and I can hear them in the walls," Watertown resident Shirley Gonzalez said.

"Just going for a walk, you see a rat cross just right across the street," Michael Frontero said.

To try to keep the problem from getting any worse, city health officials are asking people not to leave their pumpkins out overnight, especially with Halloween right around the corner.

"Everyone sees it as decoration. No one sees it as food or source of food for rats," Ramdin said of pumpkins.

Rats are running rampant in Cambridge, with city officials now looking for a "rodent liaison."

But if bringing your jack o' lantern inside every night doesn't sound appealing and you don't want to get a fake one, what else can you do?

Repellents may be your best bet, according to Jack Russell with Russell's Garden Center in Wayland. While initially repellents can smell for the first couple of days, that should go away fairly quickly, he said.

Russell also said rodent repellents aren't going to kill off the rats for good but you can put them on your pumpkins, or even your trash cans, to help keep them from coming back.

"One of the things with animal repellants is what we're trying to do is break the habit. If we can break the habit and break that cycle, they'll get used to looking at other places for food," he said.

Experts say if you do put a pumpkin out, you should try to keep it at least 6 feet off the ground because rats can jump -- pretty high apparently.

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