Why Does the GTA Have So Many Rats?Before there were vaccines for COVID-19, many restaurants in downtown Toronto and nearby cities had to close down. Faced with less food availability, rats began to migrate to residential neighbourhoods, which may account for high numbers in areas such as Etobicoke and North York. Now that restaurants have opened up again, the greater availability of food is likely to draw them back into the city. Animals, especially rodents, reproduce more when food is plentiful. Rats are already prodigious breeders, so with more food available due to the reopening of restaurants, rats in the city are likely to undergo huge population growth. Even if there were no growth among the rat population, increased activity can make it seem like there is. There is a lot of construction going on in and around Toronto at the moment, and the resulting vibration and noise can disturb rats' habitats. If the rats are disturbed enough, they may start to look for a new home. Displaced rats may be more noticeable as well-established rats try to avoid humans as much as possible.
Why Are Rats Dangerous?Rats can eat just about anything, including feces and carrion. While this can be good for keeping the environment clean, it means rats on your property can bring a lot of pathogens with them. Some species of rats carry hantavirus. As with COVID-19, the hantavirus can cause severe respiratory illness but, unlike COVID, there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments effective against the hantavirus. Rats can also carry bacteria that can cause diseases such as leptospirosis, salmonella, and tularemia. Parasites such as fleas can spread bacteria from rodents to people and pets. With the exception of salmonella, these diseases are rare in humans but can be serious.
What Can Property Owners Do To Prevent Rat Infestations?A rat infestation is dangerous and disheartening for residential and commercial property owners alike. Fortunately, you are not helpless to prevent rats from getting on your property. There are things you can do to make property both more difficult for them to get in and not appealing enough to attract them in the first place.
- Perform regular maintenance, looking specifically for small gaps, cracks, or openings that could give rodents a way into your building. Look for holes at least the size of a quarter.
- Maintain your lawn and landscaping regularly. Overgrown grass and shrubs can provide places for rodents to hide, as can clutter around your yard. Some plants may also damage the home's exterior, creating potential entry points for rodents.
- Inside the building, store food in airtight containers made of metal or glass.
- Perform a deep clean of kitchens as often as is practicable, getting behind appliances and in other hard-to-reach areas.
- Clean up cooking grease and food spills as soon as possible.
- Don't leave any food out overnight, including pet food.
- Watch out for water leaks, and fix them as soon as possible if you do find them.
- Store garbage correctly, in containers with tight lids.
- Put screens over vents.
- Install weather stripping around doors and windows.
- Repair window screens.