The rat problem in Nelson continues to grow. Fairview is the area most affected, but they are spreading to other areas and have been seen at Lakeside area and Uphill. Backyard compost seems to be the biggest driver of the rat population, as they are most commonly seen around composters.
Rats can spread bacteria that cause disease in humans such as pneumonia, salmonella, rat bite fever and a variety of lesser known illnesses. The rat can also be a nuisance as it gnaws holes to get into buildings, causing damage. It also digs into gardens to get fruit, vegetables and even flower bulbs.
With a gestation period of three weeks and reaching sexually maturity in five weeks, a pair of rats can reproduce exponentially, creating up to a thousand or more descendants in a year. This makes eradication very difficult. Managing attractants is the best way to avoid the exponential growth.
Keep garbage secure, never put it out at night, and always use a rodent-proof container when putting it on the curb. Don’t leave pet food outside and don’t have a bird feeder, especially the type that distributes seeds. Manage compost by turning it regularly, adding dry grass or leaves, and buy or build a composter that does not allow rodents to access the contents. If you have rats, work with your neighbours to manage attractants in your neighbourhood.
Make sure you seal up any holes into your house using wire mesh and expanding foam. Rats and mice can gnaw through expanding foam used alone. Rats can squeeze though holes as small as a toonie.
Trapping rats on its own is not a solution — the underlying conditions that gave rise to the rat population in the first place should be addressed. If you still need to trap rats it is important that the trap be sufficiently strong to deliver a quick, killing blow to the animal and that the trap be set in such a way as to minimize the accidental trapping of other animals. Healthlink BC has some good solid information on trapping procedures and the safe handling and disposal of the dead animal: healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/getting-rid-rodents.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-505-6007. The information will be 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 https://wildsafebc.com/rats.
If you are experiencing a conflict with wildlife please call the Conservation Officer Service, RAPP Line at 1-877-952-7277.
Dave White is Nelson’s WildSafeBC co-ordinator.