HILLSBOROUGH — An Orange County neighborhood is looking for a real-life pied piper. A Hillsborough family has been overrun by rats.
"This is their home," says homeowner Judy Rigsby. "This building does not belong to us no more."
Rats have chewed through and now occupy the Rigsbys' backyard storage building. They drink from the swimming pool, have tunneled under the house to nest, and are eating their way inside the house.
"There was a big head looking out from underneath," Rigsby says. "It pushed the nails up from under the floor."
The Rigsbys have set traps for the rats and use poison every night, but they still keep coming.
Charles Cooper has been exterminating homes for 40 years. He says if one house has a rat infestation, the neighbors have one as well.
"What a homeowner needs to do is to make sure they don't have garbage cans without lids on them or garbage exposed," Cooper says. "It generally is a neighborhood problem, and it generally requires a neighborhood approach to correcting the problem."
The rats became a problem for the neighborhood two months ago. Construction crews were working behind the Rigsbys' house and destroyed the rats' natural habitat and water supply.
"I looked over the fence and saw rats just coming down," Rigsby says.
The Orange County Health Department provided the Rigsbys with information about rats, but Judy says she now fears for the health of her children.
"It's getting destroyed by rats, and my grandbabies are getting sick," Rigsby says.
Exterminators say the whole neighborhood may have to be exterminated, and there would have to be repeat treatments. The treatments could cost each family between $100 to $300, and as long as the construction continues, the rats will migrate to new homes.