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Truro comes in at No. 10 on rat race list

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TRURO, N.S. – How goes the rat race?

The rats seem to be winning, especially the long-tailed rodents that call Atlantic Canada home.

The Town of Truro is by no means the most welcoming for rats, though it did come in at No. 10 on the Atlantic Canadian rat race list. Orkin Canada, the country’s largest pest control provider, bases its findings on the number of commercial and residential rodent – rats and mice – treatments it carries out.

Halifax placed second on the list, finishing behind St. John’s, N.L., for the region’s rattiest community crown.

“It just creates an awareness of where the rat populations are in Atlantic Canada,” Sean Rollo, regional manager for Orkin, said of ratting out communities for their robust rodent populations.

“If there are any decisions or policy-making, maybe this would be helpful. It’s also helpful to alert people who live in those communities that this is an issue in their community and that maybe they want to take some preventative measures. It is the time of the year that (rats) are trying to get in out of the cold, although this has been an abnormally mild October. The rodents will be seeking shelter to get out of the cold and once they are inside, they will set up shop quite happily.”

Ranking third in Orkin’s regional survey is Saint John, N.B., another port city.

“Anytime you have a port city, you have the ability for rats or mice to enter into the city through the various cargo ships that are coming in,” Rollo said. “There is also a lot of rail that meets up with the cargo and goes from there. It’s not surprising that the cities that have the largest rat populations are also port cities.”

Another rat factor in Halifax is the amount of construction in the city.

The most commonly found rat in this region is the Norway rat, which is roughly 40 to 50 centimetres in length from nose to tail and weighs in at about half a kilogram. Unfortunately for home and business owners, a rat can squeeze through a miniscule opening or gap in a building.

“If your thumb can fit inside the gap, the rat can get in there,” Rollo said.

“Once they are inside, to them it’s just a better version of nature. They don’t realize necessarily that they are in a building but they’ve got warmth, they’ve got protection from predators, they’ve got food and they’ve got water.”

Rats breed year-round and can have anywhere from eight to 12 pups per litter and an average of 10 litters a year, depending on resources, Rollo said. And young rats reach sexual maturity in just five weeks.

Rollo said it’s important for homeowners to know how to keep rats on the outside looking in. Home and business owners should focus on adequate door sweeps and sealing up gaps that can provide a rat conduit.

When rats have gained entry, call a professional, he said. The cost of extermination will vary from building to building, he said.

In many cases, residents are encouraged not to put meat scraps in backyard compost bins so as not to attract rodents.

The Orkin rankings, which put Dartmouth in fifth spot, account only for calls to that company and do not take into consideration the population of the ranked communities. There’s no gold medal or giant rubber rat trophy awarded for finishing atop the ratty rankings.

“It’s not so much shame,” Rollo said. “It’s not necessarily because Halifax or St. John’s or Saint John are necessarily dirty cities. It is related highly upon the geography of where that city is located and the propensity for the rodents to enter through cargo ships, rail and transportation.”

– By Francis Campbell/The Chronicle Herald

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