Canada's largest city is having a rat problem, and it's growing. Pest control companies in Toronto are reporting a huge spike in the number of rat calls and the root cause of the increased numbers could be environmental.
Most pest control companies will confirm that of all the pests they have to deal with, rats are the toughest. Some are seeing a call increase of up to 100 percent over last year.
Over the past couple of years, Toronto has seen a flurry of construction leading up to last summer's Pan Am games and major work, especially in the downtown area, where projects such as Union Station may have disrupted rate populations.
Exterminators can't put an exact figure on the number of rats in the city. They can only go by the number of increased calls they're making
Daniel MacKie, quality assurance director for GreenLeaf Pest Control, says his rat calls are up 30 percent over last year, a huge spike. MacKie says there is no single reason behind it.
"It's more of an environmental reason, why we're seeing a spike in the rats. With warmer weather, there's more abundance of food, of water available, and the more the rats are out foraging, the more they're out and about, the more they will encounter a female. So, over time, year over year, that population tends to get bigger," MacKie said.
MacKie adds people are using their properties differently.
"Today, we're composting, letting our grass go long, we're naturalizing our backyards, we're planting vegetable gardens, we're urban chicken farmers, our grass is growing long, [there are] natural flowers. So, our goal now is to create natural spaces in our backyards," said MacKie.
All that, of course, is attracting the rats, who are flourishing with all the extra food and natural shelter.
MacKie says prevention is the best solution—seal up potential entry points to your home, cut back vegetation that is close to the house and make sure any trash is disposed of. He warns the worst possible solution is to use rat poison. If a rat dies somewhere in your home, it could take weeks to get rid of the smell.