5 things you can do right now to avoid attracting rats | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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5 things you can do right now to avoid attracting rats

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November 19, 2019 - 7:00 AM

After 20 years of living in Vernon's East Hill neighbour, Clint Batchelor had never seen a rat. Then last fall they started showing up in his yard.

"I heard them trying to get into the house," Batchelor said.

By the time he'd got rid of his rodent problem, Batchelor said he'd killed about 15 rats.

Batchelor's sighting of rats for the first time last fall doesn't appear to be a coincidence.

Guardian Pest Control owner Peter Sidorczuk said calls from clients in Vernon with rat problems started last fall and prior to that rats had not been a problem.

"I've had clients that said they've lived here for 40 years and they've never seen a rat," Sidorczuk said. "Rats populate so fast, that once they're here, they're almost here to stay... in good conditions about nine rats can turn into 12,000."

Sidorczuk said while Kelowna has had long-standing issues with rats, he hadn't seen rats in Vernon and the North Okanagan until last fall. At the same time last year he also started getting calls from Salmon Arm about rats.

Theories of where the rats came from vary. Sidorczuk said they may have come on the train or migrated from Kelowna. Sidorczuk said regardless of where the rats came from, several similarities exist in the calls he receives.

  • Get rid of your backyard composter or worker harder to keep it rodent proof
  • Get rid of the backyard chickens or clean them daily of any sources of food, including eggs
  • Remove excess fruit and nuts from around trees
  • Pay special attention to bird feeders, particularly at night
  • Seal your home and outbuildings to ensure they can't get in

"Most of my clients who do have an issue are composting," Sidorczuk said.

Along with composting, discarded fruit and nuts from trees is also a major rat attractant, as are backyard chickens.

"(Rats) will even steal the chicken eggs and eat the eggs," he said.

Batchelor said he first noticed rats shortly after several homes in the neighbourhood started keeping backyard chickens.

Sidorczuk said while backyard chickens are an attractant, composting and fruit trees are more common attractants.

And the best way to deal with rats is to prevent them from moving in in the first place.

"I recommend people that compost and have a problem not to do it anymore," Sidorczuk said, although thoroughly rat-proofing a compost bin is also an option.

Sidorczuk said people should remove fallen fruit and nuts as these are big attractants for rats.

Backyard chickens are also a major attractant if rats are already in the area, Sidorczuk said. It's very important for people to follow city bylaws regarding backyard chickens in an effort to mitigate issues with rats.

Sidorczuk said 90 per cent of calls about rats come in the fall and winter when the rodents are looking for somewhere warm to hide.

Sealing up all small entry points into a property is key to preventing rats from entering the home. Sidorczuk recommends using spray foam and steel wool.

WildSafeBC also recommends taking bird feeders down at night, since rats are nocturnal, and use them only during winter months. It's also very important to clean up any spilled seed under the bird feeder.

"Most people think they have one rat, but if they start seeing something, it's probably 40 to 50 rats," Sidorczuk said. "If you see one, deal with it straight away."

Batchelor said he made his home and yard a "non-interesting place for rats" and removed anything that they may want to lodge in.

So far, he believes he has managed to successfully deal with the rodents.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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