While it is fairly common in the spring to deal with mice that have made their nests in the warm crevices of homes, sheds and vehicles over the winter months, some Chase residents have a larger rodent problem on their hands: rats, and seemingly lots of them.
The thrill of popping open the garden shed to dust off tools and get the yard ready for spring turned to shock when Cheryl Owen found the remnants of what appeared to be a community of rats that had taken up residence over the winter.
“That nest… oh my gosh! It was like a condominium, it was huge,” she says. “The nesting material filled a standard grocery store bag jam-packed full. There was everything in that nest, we had some red hazard tape that had blown into the yard and was all around the nest. It looked like they got into our lawnmower and pulled dead grass out. There was some styrofoam in there and they chewed the heck out of that, cloth from my garden that was chewed to shreds… just pretty much everything you could find in my yard.”
She also notes that, after consulting with neighbours, she is definitely not the only one in town cleaning rat nests out of their sheds.
“My two neighbours directly across the street have also had rats. I talked to my other neighbours just to say they might want to check out their sheds,” she says. “Some of the comments on the Chase Grapevine (Facebook) today showed there is definitely other people in town who are experiencing rats as well.”
While not her first encounter with rats in the Shuswap, she says this has been the first time they have caused her trouble. She was hesitant to use poison due to the large predatory bird population in the area, but after heading to the local Home Hardware to pick up some traps it became clear she was not the only one dealing with the rodents.
Brenda Joss of the Home Hardware in Chase says they have had a big increase in people coming to purchase rat traps, selling out of the traps twice already this spring. She says it’s normal for a lot of people to be looking for mouse traps come spring, but it’s unusual to see this much demand for rat traps.
Rats have been known to be a problem for communities on the fringes of the Shuswap, such as Vernon, Revelstoke and Kelowna.
Toni Walton of Buckerfield’s in Salmon Arm says they have had customers coming in to inquire about rat traps and prevention, but there hasn’t been an uptick in sales as seen in Chase. She also notes that Buckerfield’s hosts a rodent prevention seminar
Joni Heinrich, CAO of the Village of Chase, says they have heard from two different homeowners encountering rats nesting specifically in garden sheds this spring. These were not formal complaints to the village, and they are not planning any mitigation at this time, but have been made aware the rodents are cropping up.