Rats have become very unwelcome guests in one of Tucsons most prestigious neighborhoods. The Sam Hughes neighborhood is trying to figure out the best way to run off the nasty little verminand the rats could turn up in your neighborhood too.

It is a real EEEK! moment when you realize rats have invaded your house.

Barbara Vuillemins house was hosting the rat so nasty scientists named it twice: Rattus Rattus. The roof rat, black rat, or house rat probably started in Asia eons ago. But now its made it to the homes of Tucsons Sam Hughes neighborhood.

Barbaras first sign of trouble was when a neighbor noticed something was chewing up fruit from her fruit trees. Then she saw signs of the rats in her furnace.

The solution for us for the house was to get sealed. So that they couldn’t get under the house and then even on the roof. They went up and closed up all the vents. These rats can swim. They can climb. My neighbor saw a rat climbing along a cable just like a high wire.

Josh King is with Truly Nolen, the company Barbara called for help. He thinks the roof rats caught a ride here from Phoenix and says theyve been spreading for maybe a year.

We’ve got some other issues a little bit north of here.: Blenman-Elm, a little east of that, Palo Verde and I know that there are more neighborhoods than just that, but those are the heavier ones that we have the most activity in right now.

Josh says older homes like the ones in Sam Hughes are especially vulnerable because they tend to have crawl spaces and other openings the rats can squirm through.

If they’re already in the house, you’ll notice that same scenario with your fruit but on the counter, or you’ll notice droppings in the kitchen or sometimes you’ll hear something running above your head.

In Sam Hughes, Neighborhood Association President Gayle Hartmann thinks neighbors know they all need to clean and seal off their homes or the rats will just move house to house.

Anything we do is probably not going to solve this problem overnight. I hope it’s not going to turn into some, you know, really catastrophic issue. You know, I hadn’t even heard about it until you know, two weeks ago, but we’ll certainly work together and do what we can.

No one wants to use poison because that could hurt other animals. Bringing in feral cats has been suggested but they can kill birds as well as mice and rats. One possibility is to bring in barn owls to swoop in and take out the rats.

For now Barbara Vuillemin is urging neighbors to do as she did: keep the yard clean and seal off anyplace the rats may hide or the rats will keep finding new places to be –around us.