Revelstoke council gets lesson on rats from Interior Health

Anita Ely from Interior Health gives city a crash course on dealing with rats

Rats have been on people’s minds for the last year, with many people reporting a sudden infestation of the nefarious rodents in Revelstoke last summer.

Anita Ely, an environmental health officer with Interior Health, attended council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday to make a presentation about rats.

They’re an issue because they can damage your homes, contaminate food and water, and transmit diseases. Fortunately, the diseases that rats are known for transmitting are mostly not present in Canada.

“The reason in B.C. that rodents aren’t as much of a health concern is because these diseases aren’t present or very rarely seen in Canada,” she said.

The one that has been found is Hanta virus, which was found in the southern Okanagan and whose source was wild deer mice.

Ely went over the different types of rats and how to identify which might be running around your home or yard. They could be Norway rats (the largest), black rats or roof rats; you can tell the difference based on the size of their droppings — bigger rats leave bigger droppings.

To deal with rats, the key is to eliminate their habitat. That means getting rid of the food, shelter and water they need to survive. Make sure they can’t get into your garbage or compost, ensure there’s no standing pools of water they can drink from, and keep your grass cut — rats love to hide in long grass, where they’re safe from predators.

“When we’re thinking about preventatives measures, the trick is to see your house or yard the way a mouse or rat would. They see your house or yard as a habitat,” said Ely. “If you’ve made it an environment they’re not wanting to stay in, you can then move on to preventing them from coming into your house.”

That means sealing off any cracks and covering vents with metal screenings.

“Don’t forget that in the summer time, when you leave doors or windows open for fresh air, there’s an opportunity for them to come in,” she said. “In the fall, they’re looking for a nice warm place to spend the winter, and your house is perfect.”

Ely recommended snap traps or live traps to catch rodents. If you think you need poison, she says to hire a professional. “You can get unintentional harm from the poison,” she said.

If rodents have left a mess, wear a mask and gloves to clean up. Use hot water and soap, scrub it away and wash the mess down the drain.

Mayor Mark McKee said rodent control is everyone’s responsibility. “By having more information about what we can do about it, we can hopefully get a handle on it and not have it expand any more than it is, and hopefully it’s going to go in the other direction,” he said.