PENTICTON - Linda Childs thought she was moving into the perfect home and it was. For rats.
She didn’t notice anything before she moved into the Kinney Street home two years ago with her two grandchildren, ages 5 and 7, until a neighbour let her know.
“My neighbours were telling me the last few tenants had moved out of the house because of rodents,” she says. “I thought, 'I certainly hope not, there’s forms of diseases, my grandchildren are here, this is not good….’ I thought there were one or two, but there’s not, there’s thousands of the bloody things. How did Penticton end up getting them?”
While it may seem like 'thousands' to her, that's no doubt an overstatement, but her experience is part of a growing problem around the Thompson-Okanagan over the past five years and municipalities have so far done very little about the problem. Rats are know to be carriers of many diseases and can cause damage and fire hazards by chewing wires and plastic water pipes. Simply removing them from one home isn’t enough if neighbours also have them.
Childs moved out earlier this month, fed up with the problem. She says at least two of her neighbours have issues as well.
“These people had a brand new baby, and they moved,” she says, pointing to a nearby residence.
There was no way to live with it. It became habit for Childs to kick the garbage cans prior to taking them to the curb each week.
“The last time I didn’t do that, three of them jumped onto my housecoat. The place was infested,” she says.
She moved most of her belongings from the basement to a backyard shed, but that didn’t help either because it was infested as well. She went around the house, packing holes in the foundation with rocks and dirt.
“By morning, the rats had dug through it,” she says. It became so bad, if she was outside the house, Childs says she had to have a shovel nearby to chase them away.
“They would come right up to me if I was sitting on my back steps,” she says. She refused to let her grandkids play outdoors after her grandson noticed a family of rats in the yard, and called her to “come see the groundhog out here!”
But just before Christmas last year, a water pipe leaked, flooding the basement with five-feet of water.
Childs is unsure what exactly happened to the pipe, but thought she recognized bite marks on it.
"The basement was full of rat droppings,” she says. “There were more rats than ever after the flood.”
Childs says after cleaning up the basement and yard of rat excrement she found an inch of rat poop covering the bed of her pickup, from the tailgate to the cab.
She was unable to get much help from the landlord, who told her to set out traps.
“They are throughout the yard, the garage, the basement.... After the flood in the basement, they came out in packs. I’ve noticed there are babies plus mature ones, and they’re just multiplying and multiplying and multiplying. I’ve set out poison, I’ve set out traps, I’ve talked to the landlord thinking the landlord would do something, but he’s done nothing,” she says.
She finally issued notice to her landlord and moved from the property last week. While moving the furniture out of the house, a couple of pieces of furniture were left overnight. Upon arrival the next morning to pick them up, Childs noticed the rats had already urinated on the remaining furniture.
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