Roof rat likely hitched ride into Alberta

A roof rat (Rattus rattus) has been found in Drumheller, once again challenging Alberta's claim of being a rat free province.

Alberta's rat free status compromised again after rodent found in Drumheller

Roof rats are not native to the Prairies. This one likely hitched a ride in an RV from B.C., says Alberta Agriculture. (Greg Peters/Town of Drumheller)

Alberta is known for many things — the spectacular mountain scenery, the oil and gas industry and its status as a rat-free province.

But a Drumheller resident trapped a rat on Saturday, throwing Alberta's rat free status into question again.​

Alberta Agriculture's pest specialist Phil Merril says it is a roof rat.

Roof rats are smaller and darker than the native Norway rats that are normally found in the Prairie provinces, but just because they're smaller doesn't mean they're not a problem.

"They're not quite as aggressive and they're not quite as adapted to the colder climate of Alberta," said Merrill.

"But they can infest and cause us problems."

Merrill says a certain number of roof rats come into Alberta every year from the west, hitching rides on vehicles. He says the Drumheller rat likely came to Alberta in an RV travelling from the coast.

When rats are found in Alberta, Alberta Agriculture inspects the area for signs of nesting or any other activity so that the pests can be eliminated.

Merrill noted it's normal for one or two rat infestations to happen in Alberta each year, but usually close to the Saskatchewan border.

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