The recent rat flap in North Bay brought back unpleasant memories. I had a bad experience with one rat, and I hate to think that someone in my neighbourhood might be harbouring 600 as happened in North Bay.
About 14 years ago, I was enjoying a holiday in rat-free Alberta when my daughter called. She had discovered a horrible mess in the shed that is attached to the back of my house.
A rat had got in and lived off a bag of grass seed. It had pooped all over the place and my daughter had to wear gloves and a mask while picking it up.
My grandson discovered that a white rat had got into my basement, which is mostly rocks and a furnace. My daughter organized a posse armed with sticks and an air rifle. Eventually she destroyed the rat with poison.
I do not like using poison on animals. I feel guilty using so-called mouse seed to eliminate mice, but sometimes drastic action is necessary.
The white rat had odiously been bred and escaped or was released locally. I wrote to the Cobalt council pleading with them to ban the breeding and keeping of pet rats in the town. If councils can ban pit-bull dogs surely they can ban rats.
The council of the day was probably happy to think that a reporter was being pestered by a rat. I received a sarcastic letter from the then town clerk suggesting I might be liable to prosecution for cruelty to animals.
There was gossip that rats were being bred by a family at mileage 104. There are still rumours of rats being bred and rats at large, but no one does anything.
Northern Ontario used to be free of rats. In 1950 I was called to the rail yards in Noranda where a frozen rat was found in a freight car. In those days, it was news. But 30 years later, there was a colony of white rats living in a ditch outside the town.
In Alberta, a special permit must be acquired to buy or sell a rat. Alberta is almost rat-free and saves millions of dollars in damages caused by rats.
North Bay’s apartment rats are now being sheltered by various Humane Societies across Ontario. This may be a tribute to the societies’ high principles and respect for animal life.
I find it ludicrous. Rats should be exterminated.