GONE TO THE RATS: Toronto’s rodent population booming since pandemic

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Perhaps rats, not raccoons, should be Toronto’s official mascot since their numbers have increased during the pandemic.

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According to Orkin Canada, several pandemic lockdowns have led to bolder rodent activity and migration to residential neighborhoods.

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As pandemic fears have subsided and Canadian cities have resumed operations, food sources are once again abundantly available in urban areas for rats.

“With more food available, there will be exponential population growth. Food availability promotes population growth because there will be less competition for food, which will also result in high reproductive potential, high survival and healthy thriving populations,” said Alice Sinia, Ph.D. .entomologist at Orkin Canada.

But no city agency can estimate the number of rats in the city.

One statistic suggests one rat for every person.

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The city does not have an estimate of the number of rats in Toronto, but shared the number of rodent service requests related to waste and property standards and the number of rodent complaints primarily related to food service premises.

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“On average, under the DineSafe program, Toronto Public Health (TPH) also responds to approximately 400 rodent complaints per year, approximately 80% of which are mice and the remainder rats. Over the past five years, TPH has responded to 1,906 rodent complaints primarily related to food premises,” the city said in an email.

“From time to time, rodent populations tend to increase in areas of the city where they can find shelter, food and water. Noise and vibration from construction projects can also disrupt rodent habitats and displace populations.

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During construction, contractors must comply with Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act and must take steps to protect workers and the public from any hazards, including biological hazards, that the presence of rodents would create.

Actions to control rodents could include reporting to the contract administrator so that appropriate arrangements can be made in accordance with the law.

On private properties, residents and business owners are responsible for maintaining their own properties to prevent rodent infestation and should use private pest control services.

“If the town needs a mascot, I would vote for the raccoon since it is a native wild animal. Norway rats are an introduced species, but I love rats and think they don’t deserve the bad reputation they usually get,” said Nathalie Karvonen of the Toronto Wildlife Centre.

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