One fact that almost everyone can agree on is that wild rats are disgusting animals. Apart from spreading diseases and causing damage, rats are one of the only rodents that attack humans unprovoked. Rats are also notoriously widespread and are found in almost every place inhabited by humans.
Most people have dared to dream of a place without rats, but few know that such places exist. This article takes a dive into the first and most rat-free place in the Americas. Fun fact: It’s the size of Texas!
Alberta is one of the provinces of Canada and is located in its western parts. It was named after the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, who lived from 1848 to 1939.
The province is known for its agriculture and large oil industry. It is the 4th largest of all provinces and has a total area of 255,541 sq miles, making it 0.95 times the size of Texas; almost as big! More than 4,262,635 people live in Alberta.
Alberta is also known for housing the first indoor water park ever built. The park, named “World Waterpark,” is located in West Edmonton Mall and was built in 1985. West Edmonton Mall is home to the biggest triple loop indoor roller coaster in the world.
How Did Alberta, Canada Get Rid of Rats?
In 1950, the first Norway rats were spotted and reported on the eastern border of Alberta. Like other parts of North America, Alberta did not initially have Norway rats as they are not native to the North American continent. They first made an entrance to the continent in 1776, and then as expected, began to spread.
Eastern Canada got the rats first- which is understandable considering their placements on the world map. They began their spread towards other parts of Canada, and finally, in 1950, they arrived in Alberta.
However, the Albertan government was competently run, and they used those years to prepare for the arrival of the rats. 1776 to 1950 might seem like a lot of time for the rats to have taken to arrive, but it is quite a large distance, and other communities tried their best to slow the spread to their own cities- although unsuccessfully.
In 1942, the Albertan government passed The Agricultural Pests Act of Alberta. The act ruled that any animal recognized as probable or likely to cause damage to crops or livestock was ruled a pest. It further made rules that made every citizen responsible for eradicating rats in their immediate surroundings. If this was not done, the federal government had the right to step in, do the needful, and charge the bill to the citizen.
By 1950, Norway rats had successfully penetrated Saskatchewan and were crossing the border to Alberta. Once the first rats were spotted, Alberta kickstarted its pre-planned and thorough rat-control program. However, despite this meticulous planning, Alberta didn’t have it easy. Between 1950 and 1955, rat infestations increased from the first one spotted to 573!
The Albertan government persisted, and in 1959, the number of infestations began to thin out significantly. In addition to The Agricultural Pests Act of Alberta, many more strict rules were imposed. One of them mandated a rat patrol to monitor the border to ensure no rats pass through. In addition, hooded rats, white rats, and any rats with strains of the domesticated Norway rat are forbidden in Alberta. Citizens are well-informed that possession of any of these rats can result in a $5,000 fine.
Are There Really No Rats in Alberta, Canada?
A couple of rats are spotted each year in Alberta. Rats who catch rides in luggage or vehicles end up in Alberta a couple times each year. However, the province’s rat control measures meant that they are never given a chance to live or reproduce. Citizens are also encouraged to call Alberta’s rat hotline if they spot a rat; 310-FARM (3276).
How Much Did It Cost Alberta Canada to Get Rid of Rats?
According to The Guardian, the Albertan government has spent an average of C$500,000 or $396,960.85 per year in its battle against these pesky rodents. The government has been guarding against rats for 72 years and counting.
Negative Effects of Rats
In total, the Albertan government has spent approximately $28,581,181.2 in its battle against rats. Several people might wonder why such a hefty budget was spent on something that many people and countries deem insignificant. Here are some of the problems America faces due to the presence of rats:
Rats cost about $19 billion in damages each year in the USA alone. The Albertan government estimates that rats could cost them C$42 million in damages, so the half a million spent each year is a money-saving deal for them.
Worldwide, it is approximated that rats carry more than 35 diseases. Some of the most commonly spread in North America are hantavirus, rat tapeworm, leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, and salmonellosis.
Damage to Plants
Norway rats go after plants and seeds. They restrict the regeneration or regermination of many species of plants by eating their seedlings and seeds. They are also known to cause damage to plant roots, leading to reduced harvests and erosion. Norway rats also attack fields before and during harvest periods.
Damage to Fauna
Norway rats are known to prey on small fish and rodents and are also known to prey on low-nesting birds. They also reduce the amount of food left for native species, leading to the extermination of various species of fauna.
Other Rat Free Places in the World
- Antarctica: Continent Antarctica is free of rats. It is too cold for rats to survive in the wild, and since the human population is so small, there aren’t enough places for them to hide indoors in warmth.
- Breaksea Island, New Zealand: In 1988, Breaksea Island was officially listed and declared rat-free.
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