Chase Charaba, Amber Gilliland and Katie Fenton, Online/Social Media Manager and Reporters
Rats. They’re in the walls; they’re in the ceilings and there’s no telling where they’ll strike next.
Rats and mice alike have been spotted around Pierce College Puyallup this year, particularly in the College Center.
“(In) the past three years that I’ve been here, I’ve never heard as many complaints (about the rats),” Custodial Services Manager Patrick Carter said. “We’ve had complaints in the past, but not like this.”
Mice and rats have reportedly been found in multiple locations on campus. A dead rat in a trap was seen on the floor of the Academic Resource Center on May 18.
“All of a sudden at like 10:30 a.m. someone said, ‘We caught the rat,’” tutor Danielle Tucker said. “I went and looked behind the trash can and there was a dead rat just chilling in the corner. It was right by the microwave, too. Nice sight to see as you warm up your food.”
Recently, multiple rats and mice have been spotted in the Office of Student Life in C210. OSL members reported seeing mice and the evidence they left behind in the storage area in the back of the office and inside multiple student leaders’ desks.
“I was running the front desk at night during somebody’s office hour, and I was just sitting there and a couple clubs came in,” Clubs Coordinator Andrew Punchak said. “They were asking me about some of their upcoming events, so I left the front desk momentarily to go grab my binder of 2014/15 events out of my desk. I go up to it and I open it up and then I promptly yell and swear because there were two rats laying on top of my papers.”
Finding the rats was a disgusting surprise, Punchak said.
“They were in my desk just hanging out for fun, which is so gross,” Punchak said. “They peed on my papers. There was rat poop in there, and that’s disgusting.”
Facilities department employees put out traps after this incident, and Punchak said that dead mice and rats have been found next to the traps in the OSL workroom.
“I didn’t see the sticky trap, but it looked like the rat climbed on it, got stuck, and then just by its will pulled itself off and died a few feet after that,” Punchak said.
OSL student leaders also reported smelling a foul stench around the office.
“(It’d been) a couple days,” ASPCP President RoxAnne Simon said. “You gagged as soon as you opened the door.”
Facilities employees inspected for the source of the odor and found a dead rat and two dead mice in the attic laying on the ceiling panels.
“He was about the size of a guinea pig with a really long tail,” Simon said. “He was dead, and he smelled.”
Two more rodents were later found above the ceiling in the OSL’s storage area.
“Later on, they found two mice in th front office,” Simon said. “They hadn’t been dead as long. They were still soft.”
Carter said it actually helps that student leaders could smell the dead rats.
“Fortunately, someone could pick up the smell,” Carter said. “Because if not, (the rats) could’ve been up there longer and decayed, and now you’ve got ants and maggots and so forth.”
This discovery has had other students and staff wondering where else rats could be hiding. Rats had also been spotted in the Arts & Allied Health Building, but they were caught.
“Our maintenance can’t get up there each day and look (in the ceiling),” Carter said. “Especially if they’re short staffed (or) focusing on other things on the campus.”
For custodians, their main priority in battling the rats is to collect the trash every night and notify staff that have left food out overnight. Some custodians have expressed concerns with people leaving paper out as the rats use it for nesting purposes.
“My team has notified me several times throughout the year where departments have left food out,” Carter said. “In addition, I have personally witnessed food left on individuals’ desks. I believe a start (to solving this problem) would be for individuals to help us custodians by limiting the food that’s in their desk, and prior to leaving for the day, put away all food items either in a refrigerator or in the trash.”
Director of Safety and Security Chris Mackersie sent an email to college employees, telling them to clear their work areas of unnecessary food items and to use chew-proof containers for their food.
“Currently, we are working with a commercial vendor to address a rodent problem in the College Center building,” Mackersie said in the email. “Over the years we have had similar challenges in the Brouillet and Gaspard buildings. In each case, Facilities required the assistance of the building occupants to completely eliminate the rodents from the buildings.”
Food left out in the dining commons area also could attract more rats and mice.
Punchak said that while the rats are attracted to food, he wants to assure students who use the food pantry that it’s safe.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” Punchak said. “We check it every single day, twice a day. Not just for rats but for stocking purposes. We make sure that there’s nothing gross and the door is closed shut on that.”
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