Somerville declares (partial) victory over rats as Brookline readies for battle

Both cities are now using the Anticimex SMART boxes, which sense, trap, kill, and track the rats.

An electric rat trap is seen along the bike path in Somerville. This week the city distributed 50 so-called SMART Boxes across four areas as part of an effort to curb the city’s rodent problem. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

Somerville has made significant ground in its war on the city’s rats.

The City of Somerville declared its “SMART box” rat-trapping program a success Tuesday, saying that they’ve been able to trap and track the rats and study their behavior.

On Monday, Brookline announced that it will institute the same program to address its rat problem.

The devices being used are Anticimex SMART boxes, which sense, trap, and kill rodents.

According to Anticimex’s website, when a rat enters the trap, the sensors detect the rodent’s movement or body heat. The box then zaps the rodent with an electrical current, which kills it.


The rodent is put in a plastic bag in a closed container. The trap then resets itself and is ready to trap and kill again. No poison or bait is used.

The trap also records information, such as when and how often the rodents enter the trap, so that the customer can better target the rats.

Over the last six months, the City of Somerville said, the 50 SMART boxes have killed 1,050 rats and provided the city with “crucial” data about the rats’ behavior and environmental preferences.

The City said the highest concentrations of rats were found near commercial dumpsters and in mixed-use residential areas, particularly on abandoned or mismanaged properties.

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“We will be utilizing this data to orient our response moving forward, and have
already begun heightening communications and resources to environments with similar characteristics,” the City wrote in a statement.

Somerville will now be expanding the rat-trapping program to Union Square and Lincoln Park.

“Now the rats are still here, they are still replicating, but now more than ever we are able to track population trends and preferences with precision,” the City wrote.

The Boston Globe reported Monday that New England exterminator Modern Pest will install 45 of the SMART boxes in Brookline over the next few weeks.


Modern Pest will also be installing five “SMART pipe” systems, which work similarly to the boxes, in Brookline’s sewers, the Globe reported.

Other cities and towns in Massachusetts, such as Peabody, Cambridge, Arlington, Quincy, and Lowell, have also used the SMART boxes to combat rat problems, the Globe reported.

Last week, Boston kept its spot as the 13th rattiest city in the U.S. While the city hasn’t announced any plans to use SMART boxes to combat the problem, last month city councilors said they wanted to look into ways to better contain the city’s trash and end the “rat buffet.”


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