Looking and the pros & cons of this rodent.

Rat! There I said it! Many people get the creeps when this word is uttered. In fact, all but one person cringed when I mentioned I was writing an article on rats. How about you? Do you have the willies just at the thought of reading this article? Allow me to shine some light on rats; one of nature’s unloved. 

Rats can be identified by their dark fur, pointed noses, round ears and distinctive long cord like tail.  Rats are not native to Kelowna or Canada. They originally arrived, for the most part, in ocean vessels and shipping containers. These rodent ‘hitchhikers’ have various names such as Norway Rat and Roof Rat. 

image of rats Why are rats causing such great concern and problems? Rats multiply where there is warmth, shelter and a continuous source of food. Our homes can fit that description nicely. Easy access to kitchen garbage or compost, and over flowing birdseed or pet food, these among other food sources are attractive for rats. Easy entry points include gaps under doors, holes in window and door screens, and cracks in your house walls and foundation. Another area of concern is if you have piles of shrubs, tree limbs and old wood close to your home, because those piles are great habitats for rats, and it provides more opportunities for the rats to enter your home. Moreover, rats have incredibly strong teeth that can gnaw through some building materials. Rats can carry diseases and their excrement is a contaminant, both of which are very serious. Cleaning up your yard and sealing up your home is a great way to prevent any unwanted rodent population. Remember, preventing a problem from starting is the best practice.

When faced with a rat problem, it is imperative to deal with it immediately and to contact professional help that uses humane means. There are great tips and information on the BC SPCA website.

What good is a rat? They are a food source for owls, hawks, eagles, weasels, coyotes and snakes. Many thousands of rats have been used in science to advance medicine and medical treatments for humans. They are very intelligent, altruistic to other rats and they are extremely clean.

Did you know?

Rats…

  • make great pets;
  • are one of the most used animal themes for creepy Halloween effects;
  • have been taught to drive a rat sized car (ROV: rat operated vehicle);
  • generally live for only one to two years;
  • can have many young in a short period of time; and
  • they are shy and curious

-Article by Flora McLeod