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Animal Issues
Animal Bites and Rabies Prevention

The Wauwatosa Health Department investigates all animal bites.  Both domestic animal bites and wild animal encounters create a potential for rabies exposure.  Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system.  It is transmitted from infected mammals to man and is invariably fatal once symptoms appear.

Domestic Animal Bites
Report all domestic animal bite incidents to the Wauwatosa Police Department at the non-emergency number (414) 471-8430. The police report will be sent to the Wauwatosa Health Department for investigation.

Wild Animal Bites
For wild animal exposure, including bat encounters, please contact the Wauwatosa Health Department as soon as possible at (414) 479-8939. If you have the animal contained, do not release it to nature or harm the animal, since it may be needed for testing.

Medical Care
Thoroughly wash the animal bite or scratch wounds with liberal amounts of soap and water and seek medical attention.


Rats can spread disease and interfere with economic and physical well-being. Rats are predominately burrowing rodents. They are most active at night and are seldom seen during the day except if there is a large rat population. Rats will eat almost anything and often feed on pet or bird seed.

Signs of Rat Activity

  • Droppings: shiny and dark colored when fresh
  • Runways: rats use the same trails from burrow to food, water and shelter
  • Burrows: found along walls, wood piles, and concrete slabs
  • Gnawing: rats must gnaw to keep their front teeth worn down

Rat Prevention
Each homeowner or business can control the physical environment to limit rat populations.  In the city of Wauwatosa it is the responsibility of property owners to prevent conditions on their property that provide a home or food source for rats.

  • Eliminating food sources
    • Use a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid for storing garbage
    • Do not leave pet food where rats can have access to it
    • Do not put food scraps in your compost pile or use the pit method of composting
    • Bird feeders may also be a source of food for rats
  • Eliminate harborage
    • Get rid of all rubbish, junk, and unwanted materials where rats can hide and live
    • Store building materials, firewood, etc. at least 18 inches above the ground
    • Grass clippings and tree trimmings can provide additional harborage
    • Prevent rats from entering buildings by closing all access route
  • Poison or trapping can be used to supplement good prevention practices but should not be used as a substitute for prevention
  • Rat poison is sold by many companies and is available to the general public - be sure to follow all instructions on the label completely
  • Trapping may be effective if populations are small

If help is needed, contact a professional pest control specialist.

Do you have rats on your property?

We respond to complaints about rats and mice and provide information about rodent control and enforcement according to the Wauwatosa ordinance.  We do not offer baiting or elimination services but can refer you to pest control companies.

You can report illegal dumping of garbage and solid waste on private property to the Wauwatosa Department of Property Maintenance at (414) 479-8981. 


It is common for bats to find their way into homes and apartments.  However, only 2-3% bats carry the rabies virus and the testing is done only when necessary.  If you find a bat in your home, avoid coming into contact with the bat.  If you or someone else has been exposed, the bat may need to be tested for rabies.

For recommendations on how to safely capture a bat, contact WHD.  There are animal control contractors who can assist if you are not comfortable doing this yourself. 

Questions and Complaints

To ask a question or to file a complaint, contact us at (414) 479-8939 | Email

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