COVID-19 has certainly disrupted the lives of many people throughout the entire planet. Some wild animals and pests have shown to have changed their habits and routines as well during these turbulent times.
Rats, in particular, have had to make severe adjustments to how they source their food due to the closure of restaurants and therefore the lack of garbage in back alleys and garbage bins.
Homeowners who live near main streets lined with food establishments, such as Queen Street East and Danforth Avenue, are seeing an increase in rodent activity in and around their properties.
These pests have found new food sources in residential areas that include food scraps, fruits and vegetables, seeds, pet food, etc…
With spring in the air and the soil thawing, rats are becoming more active in backyards as they burrow holes in which they hide from predators, hide food, and nest.
This is a great time for homeowners to inspect their yards for rat activity in order to prevent further issues such as having them make their way into a home.
Be on the lookout for holes in the ground that are approximately 3-4 inches in diameter. Take a close look along the edges of the yard- fence line, foundation base- for any rat droppings.
If you have a shed that has not been cleaned in a while, this may be a good time to clear it out of any debris that may attract the rodents to nest inside. Any clutter around the property is the perfect hiding space for wild animals and clearing it is key to keeping them away.
Front porches and rear decks are a rat’s favourite place to take shelter and settle for the day. Because these spaces are so close to the house, it is especially important to inspect regularly and ensure no activity is taking place.
You can also ensure the space is protected by having a professional install galvanized steel mesh deep enough into the ground so the rodents cannot dig underneath.
Perhaps the most important step a homeowner can take to avoid a rat infestation on their property is to keep food sources away. Ensure that all organic garbage is place in a secured bin that cannot be compromised by rodents or other animals such as raccoons.
All pet food should be kept inside the house at all times as its scent attracts the rats.
If there are fruit trees on the property, pick up the fruit from the ground to prevent it from rotting.
If birdfeeders are present on the property, make sure that the ground is cleaned at the end of the day and that all seed bags are locked away in an inaccessible space. Rats see ground birdfeed as a buffet to feast on overnight.
If activity on the exterior of the home is kept to a minimum or eliminated altogether, the chances of rats entering the home will decrease significantly.
But in older neighbourhoods there is one entry way that can be used by these pests that most homeowners are unaware of – pipes. Older city sewage pipes that lead into a home are susceptible to rats as they breach into these unused structures to find routes into new spaces.
Also, during many renovations, plumbing is shifted from one area to another, leaving many pipes buried underground and vulnerable to rodents using them to enter a home.
It is important to identify any old pipes that may be coming into the house to prevent an interior rodent infestation.
If rodents do find their way into your home, it is important to treat the problem as fast as possible as rats can reproduce at an extremely high rate. Contacting a local exterminator is likely your best bet.
This column was provided by The Exterminators Inc. at www.TheExterminators.ca