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As temperatures drop, Okanagan rats drop in

Okanagan residents are dealing with rats as the onset of winter pushes them into attics and basements.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
November 10, 2019 - 6:00 AM

It’s been an unusual year for pests in general, and as the cold weather approaches, rats are no exception.

Penticton’s Can Guard Pest Solutions’ Reid Kelley says it has been a slow start to the rodent season so far in the South Okanagan, but that seems to be in keeping with a trend this year.

“It’s been an odd year for pest control,” he says. “This year the wasp season was late, too. We didn’t get many calls when we should have been, then they started coming in when there shouldn’t have been any wasps."

Kelley says Penticton and the Okanagan’s rat problem is not going to go away. He’s heard of rat problems as far north as Lake Country, and beyond.

He says the problem is widespread in Penticton as well.

“Each year they’re going to get a little worse. They breed so quickly, and now they are here, they are spreading,” Kelley says adding it seems likely the rats first found their way to the Okanagan on a semi truck.

“We haven’t had a ton of rodent calls, but they’re going to come,” he says.

Penticton resident Bruce Lawrence agrees. He says he’s noticed a rat problem in his neighbourhood for about a month now.

Lawrence has trapped eight on his property so far this season, located between the malls in Penticton on Skaha Lake Road.

“I grew up here and we never had a rat problem in Penticton,” Lawrence says. “It wasn’t until I returned around nine years ago, I started having a problem as soon as I moved in.”

Lawrence has trapped roof and Norwegian rats at his residence. Many of his neighbours, who are elderly and long time residents of the area, believe the rats began appearing around the same time as Penticton opened its first big box stores.

“They believe the rats came in on a sea can,” he says.

Lawrence’s’ trapping methods have evolved over time.

“They are an intelligent animal. They can eat bait out of a trap without triggering it,” Lawrence says.

He uses four traps in a ‘wagon wheel’ setup, placing the bait in the centre.

“The rat goes in to feed and ends up getting caught in one trap or the other,” he says.

Lawrence says his neighbours have had to pay some hefty bills after storing a vehicle under cover outside during the winter season. Rats got under the hood of the vehicles, chewed the ignition and electrical wires to the tune of several thousand dollars’ damage.

His neighbourhood isn't the only one plagued by rats. Social media postings indicate residents in Kaleden and Osoyoos have also had issues with rats this year and they've been persistent in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Vernon.

Vernon’s Orkin Canada Pest Control manager Matthew Wright said recently the Okanagan’s rat problem was here to stay, noting they have been spreading up the valley.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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