I’ve seen a few rats in the subway lately. Is the rodent population on the rise? What does the TTC do for pest control?

I’ve seen a few rats in the subway lately. Is the rodent population on the rise? What does the TTC do for pest control?

(Image: istockphoto) 

It’s difficult to precisely measure the growth of rat populations—the loathed rodents are more likely to be caught and killed than tagged and tracked—but many Toronto pest control specialists say their business has shot up since the 2009 garbage strike sparked a veritable vermin baby boom last July, so it’s quite possi­ble the summer of rodent love is responsible for an increased presence in the subways. Geography is also a factor; your chances of spotting a rat are greater in the downtown core because the busy inner stations see the most foot traffic and, in turn, collect the most litter. Being crafty scavengers, the hungry varmints flock to the bounty. Regular platform cleanups prevent the stations from becoming smorgasbords for pests. However, rats are most often spotted on the tracks, where garbage collection is less frequent because it can only be done in the wee hours when the system is shut down. It’s at track level where the TTC’s anti-rat measures go from benignly preventive to justifiably homicidal. Every four months, maintenance crews distribute rodenticides at the ends of each platform. Depending on your animal ethics, this practice may either reassure you or cause you to recoil with indignation.

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