"Nobody like rats," says Steve 'Natural Born Killer' Winger.
But if anyone did, he would. The St. Petersburg exterminator is benefiting from the city's rodent infestation.
A recent morning saw his company Natural Born Killers in Tyrone where a woman heard a "convention of rats screeching" and Historic Kenwood where a woman was saving an organic peach on her kitchen countertop until a rat ate it. Those were just the first two calls of the day.
Winger says he saw this day coming.
"We've had this problem in Pinellas County and St. Pete for at least two years," said Winger. "Cable and power lines are an interstate system for rats."
The rats are on the move.
But there are ways to keep your house rat-smart and hopefully rat-free:
Cayenne Pepper: Rats absolutely HATE the stuff especially when it gets in their fur or on their paws. Red pepper is a rat deterrent. So apply to possible trouble spots around the outside of your house. Look for "smudge marks" on walls, a telltale sign that rats are trying to get in.
Clear clutter and trash from your house: Make sure there are no piles of foliage or wood near your home. Trim tree branches that overhang your roof. Rats are good climbers and a branch is an easy off-ramp onto and into your house.
- Seal up small openings: Use foam or metal grating to seal off small entryways into your house. Winger's rule: "If you can fit two fingers into it, a rat can fit through it."
The City of St. Petersburg offers free rodent control. However, they can only deliver poison traps for area outside of your house: www.stpete.org/sanitation/free_rodent_control/index.php.
For existing rodent problems inside your home you may need to call an exterminator like Winger.