Pest control crews in the capital region have their hands full catching rats and mice as they deal with one of the worst rodent infestations in decades in Greater Victoria. “There’s been an abundance of rodent activity in Victoria in the last year,” explains Christopher Day of Orkin Pest Control. Mild West Coast weather means the persistent pests don’t die off but it was actually the unseasonably cold winter last year that’s made the problem even worse. “With our weather typically being a bit warmer, we have a population that grows and grows,” says Day. “Last winter, we had a very cold winter that pushes them in and then they intrude into houses and businesses.” As homeowners try to get the critters under control, stores like Borden Mercantile say they’re seeing a 15 to 20 per cent increase in pest control sales. But with tighter government restrictions on poisons for non-commercial use, experts fear the population explosion will continue to grow. “Consumers are now using the less strong poisons,” says Ross Borden of Borden Mercantile. “I think as they remove more effective ones off the market the rat and mouse problem is only going to get worse every year, much worse.” Experts say the most important thing people can do for rodent control is to make sure their home or business is properly sealed. Believe it or not, a mouse only needs an opening the diameter of a ballpoint pen to get inside. “Mice have a collapsible skeletal structure so as long as their skull can get through, the rest can,” says Day. “It’s why they’re pointed at the front.” That’s why it’s important to check your garage and basement, where rats and mice like to hide. And if you think you have a problem, traps are effective and so are exterior bait blocks ? which can be locked so pets or children don’t get into them ? to vanquish vermin for good.