MADISON, Wis. -

Public health officials said just before winter is a good time to prevent rats from taking up residence in your home for the cold months.

Public Health Madison & Dane County said it's seeing a rise in the area's rat population, and said residents can take a few measures control rat populations and prevent infestations.

A video released Wednesday offers tips like eliminating the rodents' food sources, such as fallen fruit under trees, or birdseed on the ground. Everyone should secure trash in dumpsters.

Coming into contact with rats, their urine, or feces has been linked to disease, PHMDC said. Rats can cause property damage with their gnawing and digging, including damage to insulation and electrical wiring, which can increase risk of structural fires.

The health agency's video on how to protect your home from rats can be viewed on YouTube.