With a clang and a roar on the street outside her house, Nancy Kummen’s fresh ripe tomatoes, stripped from the vines, were taken away in the garbage truck this week, instead of being sliced into a salad on her counter.
What she’d seen when she went out to her overflowing vegetable garden to pluck the ripe fruit last week, was tomatoes that had been eaten on the vine, still oozing juice and dotted with rat droppings.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the destruction,” she said sadly.
She admits she used to live in North Vancouver so she should have known better than to keep a compost pile to recycle onto her garden, but she knows better now, and she vows to change her ways. Compose can attract rats.
In the meantime, she wonders what she ought to do to recycle compostable materials from her kitchen and her garden, or whether she’ll have to continue to put it into the garbage instead.
She picked up rat traps from Buckerfields, but says the rats have been eating the bait off them and not setting off the traps.
She hasn’t had any luck so far in trapping the rodents, but she saw one of them the other day, and she believes they are the roof rat, or black rat, not the Norway rat common now in the Lower Mainland. It was a slim rat with a pointed nose.
Kummen’s neighbour, Yvonne Herbison, has had more success in her trapping efforts, and said she has been doing so for the past year.
She’s concerned about using poison because of the harm it could cause secondarily to owls and kestrels in the old Glenmore area they live in.
Her grapes have been stripped by rats.
Neighbours with fruit such as cherries which have been infested with Spotted Wing Drosophila and left on the tree, have helped to attract them, she believes, along with nut trees.
Bird feeders are another issue, as feed left out for birds can also attract rats.
Rats are not native here and occur uncommonly.
The City of Kelowna has received several calls from residents in that area of town, but it does not have a rat control program. Instead, it advises residents to contact a pest control company, as does the regional district.
However, the City of Penticton has a rat control pamphlet on its website which advises residents to work with their neighbours so everyone is taking the same measures to control them.
It advises you keep food and garbage tightly covered and rat-proof the property. Bird or pet food should be removed immediately after feeding; trash removed and stored material elevated.
Piles of debris or lumber provide cover for them, as do thick vegetation.
They only live for a year or so, but in that time, one pair can produce up to 50 young. Often they live and nest in attics, ceilings and walls, so screen any openings to keep them out.
In recent years, rat infestations have been reported in Summerland as well as Penticton and there have been reports from the Glenrosa area as well as from the Mission area of Kelowna.