The rat population in some communities in the West Kootenay has taken off in the past few years. File photo

The rat population in some communities in the West Kootenay has taken off in the past few years. File photo

COLUMN: Simple steps to keep rats out of your home

“Rats can squeeze through openings as small as a quarter,” writes wildlife columnist Dave White

By Dave White

For nearly two years, I have been monitoring the spread of rats through Nelson. In this time, I have interviewed dozens of people and would like to share a few things I have learned.

People have told me horror stories of the mayhem rats cause once they invade a home. Holes nibbled in walls, insulation pulled out for nesting, and rat urine and feces in basements causing a terrible smell. The damage in dollar value can be considerable when insulation needs to be removed and replaced. In the case of rats, the old adage of an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure seems to ring true.

It has been my conclusion that composters are one of the single biggest drivers of the rat population in Nelson. Poorly managed or designed composters are the issue, not composting in general. Reworking your composter will have a far bigger impact than any lethal program of trapping. Trapping has its place, when rats have invaded a home, but I feel that outside trapping will only catch a small portion of the rats present, and rats can replace the numbers in short order.

Bird feeders and pet food are also a huge attractant for rats. Birds often spill the seeds on to the ground where rodents can easily take advantage of the huge caloric content. The type of rat in Nelson (Ratus ratus), is called a roof rat because they are excellent climbers. They can often climb and access the birdfeeder directly. If you are seeing rats, consider decommissioning the birdfeeder and never leave uneaten pet food in the open where a rat can access it.

Another preventative action is assessing a home to ensure rats cannot find their way in. Older homes especially need to be carefully searched for openings, as rats can squeeze through openings as small as a quarter. If you find a hole, use copper mesh to fill the hole and prevent rats from nibbling in.

In one older home I saw a rat had taken an existing hole, just above the stone foundation, and gnawed it until it was big enough to squeeze through and enter the basement. Hardware cloth wire mesh might be the best way to address this issue.

Often, I see Nelson homes in the summer with doors left wide open. On two occasions that I know of, rats have walked right into a home through open doors. Leave doors closed or consider getting a screen door to prevent this from occurring.

Removing attractants that bring rats into neighborhoods will effectively eliminate the problem. This has been demonstrated recently by the COVID-19 shut down. In cities around the world, it has been observed that where restaurants are shut and the corresponding garbage is absent, rats are dispersing in search for food. Experts are predicting a drastic decline in rat populations as a result.

If you see or catch a rat, please take a photograph and send it along with any information you can provide to me by email: or call or text 250-505-6007. The information is being used to create a database of the distribution throughout the city which will help us better understand where our educational services are needed.

WildSafeBC rat information can be found at If you are experiencing a conflict with wildlife please call the Conservation Officer Service, RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277.

Dave White is the Nelson and area WildsafeBC co-ordinator.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
RCMP: Small tin saved Trail man from stabbing

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

School District 8 is asking the education ministry to stop making the Foundation Skills Assessment data public. File photo
Kootenay Lake School District requests education ministry make annual student assessments private

The district is concerned the data is being misused by the Fraser Institute

Nelson has begun 2021 with a small rise in COVID-19 cases. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Ten new cases of COVID-19 in Nelson area

The cases were reported for the week of Jan. 3 to 9

Zoey Uniat is now three months old. Photo: Submitted
Castlegar baby with rare disorder progressing towards coming home

Fundraiser for Zoey Uniat has raised more than $50,000

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read