Two dead pet rats were found in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., after a local man who saw them on the road called animal control on Monday afternoon, a provincial agriculture official confirmed Tuesday.
"One of our staff from Edmonton went out and looked at the suspect rats and determined that the rats were pet rats ... not the wild Norway Rat," said Rob Pulyk, an inspector with Alberta Agriculture.
The rats were likely released by someone who heard that pet rats are illegal in Alberta, Pulyk said.
The rats were first spotted by Dave Wilson when he was driving home.
"When I was driving, I noticed what appeared to be a live rat in the middle of the road and another rat, kinda, half out of a Sobey's bag beside it," he said.
Wilson couldn't pull over, so he went home, and returned on his bike. When he got back, one of the rats had disappeared, but there was another still in the bag. Wilson ran home and called animal control. An officer met him and confirmed it was a rat.
The officer then contacted provincial officials who found two dead rats. It is not clear whether the second dead rat was the rat Wilson said he saw on the road.
Alberta has aggressively fought the pest since the 1950s and boasts of being rat-free. The province bans the purchase of rats as pets and has Alberta landowners patrolling for Saskatchewan rats near the border with Saskatchewan — along a swath of land 631 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide.
The "rat patrol" has been on high alert after recent reports of an infestation in the Saskatchewan city of Swift Current.
On Tuesday, officials confirmed that there was no rat infestation in Calgary's Coventry Hill neighbourhood. Last week, a rat believed to have entered the province from Saskatachewan on a recreational vehicle was captured and disposed of.