Canadian Manufacturing

COVID-19 impacts have rats on the move

For restaurant owners and other businesses, it's important to keep on top of pest control

April 13, 2020  by CM Staff

Garbage is the main source of food for rats. PHOTO: Abell Pest Control Inc.

With COVID-19, restaurants, hotels and many other industries have had their businesses disrupted. This has resulted in much less garbage being left on the streets and in dumpsters, thereby removing the major food source for rats in urban centers and causing them to travel to find new food sources.

In a recent National Geographic article, Bobby Corrigan, a rodentologist who specializes in urban rats, cited “as particular colonies of rats lose their established food sources — whether it’s litter and trash cans in parks, or dumpsters outside restaurants — they will start fighting over any food that’s left…Others will strike out into the unknown, looking for new food sources.”

“Rats can enter homes and buildings under door gaps, cracks in foundations or gaps around pipes. A determined rat can squeeze its way into an opening of only 1″ — that’s about the size of a quarter,” said Dusana Bondy, quality assurance auditor at Abell Pest Control, in a prepared statement.

During Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic, Abell Pest Control has reported having seen a 50% increase in rat-related calls compared to 2019, with most inquiries coming from urban centers like Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina and Vancouver.


“The most important reason to keep rats outdoors is their disease-carrying ability. Pathogens such as salmonella and e. coli can be transmitted via rats and these are very dangerous for humans to be exposed to. As rats scurry around forced to find new food sources, home and business owners must know how to prevent them from getting inside,” said Bondy.

The company advises homeowners to inspect the exterior of their home or business and clear the yard of clutter and debris where rats can hide. Abell also recommends keeping a clean kitchen and store food tightly and securely.

“For restaurant owners and other businesses, especially during times of closure when rats can move around unnoticed, it’s important to keep on top of your pest control,” added Bondy. “The last thing anybody wants to be dealing with during this pandemic is a rat infestation to add to an already stressful time.”