Orange Co. facing possible rodent infestation

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.,None —

Health officials are worried there could be a major rodent infestation across Orange County.

A milder than normal winter, along with a huge number of abandoned homes, could be causing the number of mice and rats to surge.

The problems is especially bad in certain neighborhoods. The rodents have surfaced in at least seven different neighborhoods.

County health officials said they typically get a call every few weeks about rodents, but in the last 40 days they're averaging at least a call a day.

Lisa Amato has lived in her Doctor Phillips home for 21 years and never had a rodent problem until last month.

She now keeps her cat inside because it started dragging them to the front door.

WFTV asked if the cat was dragging in rats or mice.

"There's both," Amato said. "There are field mice and there's a few rats."

Orange County health officials said complaints about rodents started coming in more than a month ago.

Calls are coming from Doctor Phillips, Ocoee, Belle Isle, Pine Hills, Maitland, east Orange County, and Apopka, which had a mice infestation in 2000 and again in 2007.

WFTV asked Kim Dove of the Orange County Health Department what could be causing the problem.

"The fact that we've had a milder than normal winter, citrus season is September through March, construction, abandoned properties," Dove said.

WFTV was with Shannon Winters of Custom Pest Solutions when he inspected two abandoned homes in College Park that could be attracting rodents.

"They just don't know they're in there until you do an inspection and you see all the fecal and urine in the attic," Winters said.

The rodents only need a hole the size of a quarter to get inside your home. And WFTV found holes even larger than that around one home.

Commissioner Fred Brummer is working health officials to come up with solutions but said there is no funding to help with abatement.

So when residents call with complaints, all they can do is provide tips on how to stop the rodent population from getting worse.

"We can't just be piling junk around the house because that's a place for rats to nest," Brummer said.

The rodents also carry disease. Health officials said with money, they could at least put out traps.

Pest control can cost more than $1,000 per home. County health officials will talk to county commissioners about the rodent problem at a board of county commissioners meeting Tuesday.