Thunder Bay’s Rat Problem: A Guide to Control and Prevention

Rat trap
Rat Traps like this work but sometimes a clever rat will avoid the certain death. Watch your fingers setting them.

Thunder Bay – NEWS – Rats are a worldwide nuisance, causing health and infrastructure problems wherever they infest. Thunder Bay, like many other cities, is no exception, we have a rat problem in our city.

Five years ago, Norway rats were mostly found along the waterfront by grain elevators. Since 2017 these pests have migrated across many parts of the city. There are significant numbers of rats in both downtown areas.

Dealing with the problem means learning about the problem. Here, we delve into the dangers posed by these pests, along with solutions for homeowners, business owners, and communities.

Norway Rat
Norway Rat

The Norway rat, which is also called the brown rat is the most common rat in Thunder Bay. It is a shy and primarily nocturnal animal. A rat shelter can be almost any object rats can crawl under, including planks, plywood, buildings or structures resting on the ground.

Once secure, rats will quickly seek food. A Norway rat can survive on a wide range of food items from domestic garbage, rotten meat and fish, stale grain, green feed and straw, to fresh fruits and vegetables, packaged foods, sugar and candies.

TBDHU Rat Map from Citizen reported rats infestations (2017)
TBDHU Rat Map from Citizen reported rats infestations (2017)

How Fast Can a Rat Population Grow?

Following about a 3-week gestation period, 12 to 18 rats are born to a female rat that can be as young as 8 weeks of age.

A Norway rat can produce up to 12 litters per year. Male rats are sexually mature at approximately 90 days of age. Norway rats may live up to 18 months in the wild. It has been estimated that, under ideal conditions, a single pair of Norway rats could produce 15,000 offspring in a year.

The Dangers Posed by Rats

Rats are more than just an unsettling presence. They can pose significant health risks and can cause severe damage to infrastructure.

Health Risks

Rats are known vectors of various diseases that can affect humans. These include leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can lead to kidney damage and meningitis, and hantavirus, which can result in severe respiratory disease. Rats can also carry fleas, which can transmit diseases such as plague and typhus.

The City of Thunder Bay states fortunately, “The risk of rats spreading disease in the community is low. However, rats can be a nuisance.”

This doesn’t mean we should ignore the problem however.

Infrastructure Damage

Rats have strong teeth that can gnaw through materials like wood, plastic, and even soft metals. This can result in structural damage to homes and businesses and can even cause fires by chewing through electrical wires.

Rats have powerful teeth that never stop growing, so they need to gnaw on things to keep their teeth at a manageable size. They often chew on the insulation around wires, which can lead to short circuits, electrical malfunctions, or even fires. They can also chew through automotive hoses, leading to leaks and other problems.

Solutions for Homeowners and Business Owners

While rats pose a significant problem, there are various steps homeowners and business owners can take to mitigate these risks.

Prevention is Key

To prevent a rat infestation, ensure your property is not an attractive habitat. This means keeping areas clean, sealing any holes or cracks that might allow rats to enter, and securely storing food. Regular property inspections can also help detect any potential issues before they become a problem.

Rat Trap with poison
Rat Trap with poison

Professional Pest Control

If you suspect a rat infestation, it’s essential to contact professional pest control services. They can accurately identify the extent of the problem and implement effective strategies to eliminate the rats.

The City of Thunder Bay website lists these companies:

If you have a large infestation that you cannot control, hire a licensed pest control company:

AAA Pest Control

411 Simpson St, Thunder Bay,


Natural Pest Control

225 Harold St N., Thunder Bay,


Nor West Pest Control

430 Balmoral St, Thunder Bay,

807-577-2499 or 1-800-360-1560

Toodaloo Pest and Wildlife Services 


Community Action

Rat control is not just an individual responsibility; it requires community-wide action. Cities can implement public education campaigns to increase awareness of the risks and prevention methods. Regular inspections of public spaces and infrastructure can also help detect and address infestations.

Lessons from Alberta’s Rat Patrol

Alberta has a unique approach to rat control. The province takes rat infestations extremely seriously due to the potential health risks and infrastructure damage.

The “Rat Patrol” states, “Albertans have enjoyed living without the menace of rats since 1950 when the Rat Control Program was established. Alberta’s rat-free status means there is no resident population of rats and they are not allowed to establish themselves. It does not mean we never get rats. Small infestations occasionally occur, but when found, the rats are isolated and eradicated through proven control methods”.

Alberta’s Rat Patrol is a dedicated team responsible for keeping the province rat-free.

The Rat Patrol works on the principle of prevention rather than reaction. It is vigilant in ensuring that conditions are not conducive to rat populations. This includes educating the public, inspecting properties, and rapidly responding to any rat sightings.

Alberta’s success in keeping rats at bay can be attributed to this proactive approach. The Rat Patrol’s work underscores the importance of prevention and the need for community-wide engagement in tackling rat infestations.


Rats pose significant dangers to our health and infrastructure. However, by implementing effective prevention strategies and responding quickly to infestations, we can mitigate these risks. The success of Alberta’s Rat Patrol demonstrates the value of a proactive and community-based approach to this pervasive problem. The City of Thunder Bay, and other communities, homeowners, and business owners can also gain valuable information from Alberta’s Rat Patrol to effectively manage and ultimately eradicate the rat problem.

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