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Is Vancouver's rat population rapidly growing? An expert weighs in

In one house, his company found over 600 rats and neighbours could see them "running up the curtains."
Green Valley Pest Control Ltd. says that everything from a bird feeder to a vegetable garden to an overgrown bush can attract problematic rodents. 

Have you noticed an uptick in rodents in or around your dwelling? 

According to an expert, people unknowingly invite rats into their yards and homes by making their properties appealing to the hairless-tailed critters. 

Green Valley Pest Control Ltd. owner Joe Gabara told Vancouver Is Awesome that everything from a bird feeder to a vegetable garden to an overgrown bush can attract problematic pests. 

"Any kind of bird feeder is just not recommended," he said. "Birds are not clean...they pick at them and flick them...there's nothing really that doesn't get on the ground."

Since rats are omnivorous, they'll "eat anything." Fruit should be picked from trees before it makes it to the ground, as the scent will attract them in droves. 

"As much as you love your vegetable garden, they'll eat those," he added. And since they need to drink water every day, bird baths, or any other standing water, attracts the critters. 

Home-owners can clear out overgrown bushes to open up space for birds of prey to hunt the resident rodents. They can also pour concrete under sheds and seal their homes to prevent entryways. 

But the expert exterminator noted that Vancouver's rat population isn't going away anytime soon. 

"Rats are very prolific," he said. "We're not going to get rid of the rats."

Has there been an increase in rat-related calls in Vancouver?

With that in mind, Gabara hasn't seen a major jump in the number of rat-related calls over the past few months. He did, however, see a spike in rodent requests earlier in the pandemic when people were isolated at home

Despite not seeing an increase, Green Valley Pest Control Ltd. still handles five or six rat calls a day. "And some of the bigger companies probably see way more," he added. 

When asked if rats ever attack people, Gabarra said it was highly unlikely as people are "too big to eat. Let's put it that way." 

With a pest control career spanning an impressive 30 years, the Vancouverite says one rat experience from a decade ago truly stands out from the rest.

The company visited a residence in Pitt Meadows after they were informed by a neighbour that they could see "rats running up the curtains." When the technician entered the home, the rats had completely taken over.

"We're talking hundreds," he said. "We probably killed over 600 rats at this house and that's no word of a lie.

"We call it the host of horrors." 

The city later condemned the house because the rats had chewed through everything and it wasn't salvageable. 

When it comes to rats, Vancouver can't stop winning the title of B.C.'s rattiest city (it feels more like losing, however). And in March, a Vancouver man described one of the homes in his neighbourhood as "out of control" with rats. 

"Walk by [the house] after dark and you will see no less than a couple of dozen rats climbing out of the pots or scurrying around your feet," the exasperated resident told V.I.A.

Read his teriffying rat infestation story.