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Constant construction, sloppy garbage collection means rats are rising in Toronto

Climate change, constant construction and untidy garbage collection some of the reasons behind the rodents thriving in the city.

Toronto pest controllers say they've seen a steady increase in numbers of calls looking for help to battle rats over the past four years.

File / Torstar News Service Order this photo

Toronto pest controllers say they've seen a steady increase in numbers of calls looking for help to battle rats over the past four years.

It’s a fine time to be a rat in Toronto.

The city’s rodent population is on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down, say pest-control professionals.

“The volume of calls we’re receiving now, I’d say it’s maybe double what we were getting last year,” said Avery Addison, who owns Addison Pest Control in downtown Toronto. “I also think these rats are becoming cleverer and sneakier with their defence mechanisms. Especially the older ones are really good at avoiding traps.”

The city’s rat infestation has been worsening for the past three to four years, he said.

There’s no single factor contributing to the growth of these unwanted inhabitants, but Addison said environmental changes are a big part of it.

A string of warm winters has created favourable conditions for reproduction. Construction sites across the city provide rats with an ideal habitat. Sloppy garbage-disposal habits mean there’s no shortage of food.

“Nobody wants to live with rats, but they also don’t have many predators in the city,” explained Addison.

Daniel Mackie of GreenLeaf Pest Control said callers normally need help with ants in late spring/early summer, but concern over rats has increased by 25 to 30 per cent compared to this time last year.

He doesn’t expect any decrease in the near future.

“Unless some kind of disaster happens to wipe them out, or there’s an aggressive control strategy like they did in Calgary,” he said, referring to Alberta’s war on rats that keeps them largely out of the province.

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