In the past five years, Aetna has seen a steady increase in rat calls. This pesky rodent has had much success in Toronto and the GTA for several reasons:
- increased construction disrupting their harborage sites
- milder winters, allowing them more time to find food and reproduce
- availability of food from compost bins and vegetable gardens
- a lack of predators
- an ever-growing, large urban environment providing excellent habitats where they can survive and thrive
Rats are much more prevalent in the downtown core, but their populations have penetrated all areas of the GTA. These pests are active all year round; however, the months of October and November are especially troublesome. The colder temperatures force them indoors to nest and forage for food.
Once rats gain entry into your home, they can cause a whole host of problems aside from being incredibly terrifying and unsightly. Their gnawing and foraging behavior can lead to food loss and structural damage in homes. While rats rarely bite unless cornered, their continuously growing teeth make them highly efficient at gnawing on just about everything, including wiring – which can start fires. In addition, they may bring along their parasitic friends for the ride, such as fleas, mites, ticks, and lice.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Toronto is not only experiencing a renovation boom that has displaced many rats from their burrows, but significantly larger construction projects have displaced very large populations of rats, such as: the Union Station project, the Eglinton crosstown light rail line, and the Spadina subway extension. Given the increasing and migratory rodent population in Toronto, it is important to be aware of what you can do to prevent your home from being invaded by rats:
- Reduce clutter to prevent hiding spots, especially around foundation walls (i.e., wood piles, etc.).
- Eliminate sources of food (fallen fruit, pet food left outdoors, grass seed, etc.).
- Secure composters to prevent rodents from entering them.
- Eliminate bird feeders and bird baths.
- Patch holes around exterior larger than a quarter (or a nickel, in the case of mice).
- Use heavy gauge wire mesh to cover vents, and use metal sheeting to cover holes.
- Ensure that crawlspaces, attics, basements, and other areas with low traffic are well ventilated and clean. Moisture is a strong pest attractant, and it can also cause significant structural damage.
- Replace broken or rotten roof shingles and make sure screens on roof and attic air vents are in good repair.
- Trim tree branches and other vegetation away from the roof, attic vents, and utility wires. Some rats, such as roof rats, are agile climbers and will exploit these easy entry points into your home.