City, store officials trying to control possible infestation after rats spotted at Galleria-area HEB's parking lot

September 27, 2013 4:04:13 AM PDT
Rats are not what you expect to see on your way to the grocery store, but customers at a Galleria-area store say that is exactly what they are seeing the in the parking lot.

It was a tip from a Facebook Friend that led us to the corner of Westheimer and Fountain View. A customer parking in the HEB parking lot told us they saw dozens of rats, and we found them too.

The rats are running free in the HEB parking lot.

Dozens of rodents are living in the bushes between Westheimer and the northern edge of the lot. And they aren't shy. We watched as several frolicked along the curb, stopped for a drink and darted out of sight behind the store sign at the corner of the lot.

"I think that's pretty gross," said Rashina Burks who lives near the parking lot.

After getting a Facebook tip about the rats, we had no trouble spotting them.

"I hope I don't have to step on one on the sidewalk," said Stormy Hamilton as she walked along the edge of the parking lot.

We called Houston's Department of Health And Human Services about the problem. An inspector blames the infestation on nearby construction that has forced the rats to find a new home. The inspector says the rodents may be coming from the sewer system but adds the large number of panhandlers at the intersection are leaving food in the bushes and the rats are having a feast.

As for the store itself, it is rat free and has been for years.

"They are not getting into the store, but they are probably living in the bushes, " said city inspector Jerry Bradshaw.

HEB officials are also now aware of the problem and told us, "We are taking measures to eliminate any rodents on our property."

HEB officials tell us the rats are living in the right of way owned by the city and near the bus stop owned by METRO. City officials say they will now figure out the best way to eliminate the rodents.

It's a solution can't come soon enough for those who live near the intersection.

"Well it's scary, " said Horatio Rodriguez who lives close to the area.

Exterminators say it is not unusual to see rats in the city, but when the rodents come out early in the evening or in the daylight, that signals a large rodent population. They say without traps or poison, the infestation will continue.

If you have a Facebook tip, send it in and let us know where you find rats or anything else.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13


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