British Columbia

Rat population boom blamed on cold B.C. winter

Colder temperatures and frozen ground are being blamed for an exponential increase in Nanaimo's rat population.

A pest control expert says he's pulled 47 rats out of one house this winter

An increase in rat infestations has been linked to colder weather and frozen ground. (Bruce Reeve/CBC)

Nanaimo's rat population is booming, says a local pest control company. 

"It's about 40 to 60 per cent up from the past 3 years, and they are everywhere," Don Woodward of Champion Pest Control told On the Island host Gregor Cragie.

"Rats live in the ground and with normal B.C. weather the ground doesn't freeze."

Woodward says he has dealt with some memorable infestations this year, including removing 47 rats from one house.

According to Woodward, the lights in the house had started to flicker and when an electrician was called he discovered a "rat problem."

Woodward warns that rats can enter a hole in your house the size of a quarter, but adds that the wiring in cars also holds a big attraction for the rodents.

Rats love chewing wires, particularly the black-coated wires in newer cars. (Alex Wilcox)

"They are in vehicles in vast amounts this year," Woodward said.

"Some of the wires are made with a food based components like soy or phosphorous so then they think it is food so they keep chewing."

Woodward says rat infestations can result in thousands of dollars in damage as well as cause fires.

The Saanich fire department is also currently investigating a vehicle fire at a car dealership possibly connected to rats.

"We do not have a pattern of vehicle fires being caused by rats," said, Brock Henson, assistant deputy chief with the Saanich fire department. "But it is something we will pay attention to, and ask the public to be diligent about."

To listen to the full interview with the pest control expert on CBC Radio One's On The Island go to "Rat population boom blamed on cold B.C. winter"