International students told rats and mice are “normal” in Windsor

Sonia Koshy
By Sonia Koshy May 1, 2017 22:14



Just one week after the student arrived from India, she started hearing rumbling noises in her rental home in Windsor, Ont.

At first, she was not sure what she was hearing.

But when she saw the huge fur ball with a long tail, it became clear.

“She started screaming. She was on the bed. She was at one corner of the bed and she said there was a rat in the room.  She had a vent that was huge and we saw there was a rat at the corner of the bed.”

Junia Joseph describes her roommate’s horrifying experience. Joseph is an international student, studying for her masters of engineering at the University of Windsor.

What the roommate experienced first-hand is Windsor’s little rodent problem.

A pest control company recently listed Windsor as the seventh ‘rattiest city’ in Ontario. This was based on a survey the company performed in 2016.

Anne Marie Albidone is the environmental services manager at the City of Windsor.

She doesn’t deny the problem with rats and mice, but she says it’s up to residents to minimize the risk of an infestation.

Albidone urges residents to carefully examine their houses for what could be potential food or water sources for the rodents.

“Right now we are at a peak with the rats so there’s certainly a higher number of calls that we are getting from our rodent control program,” said Albidone.

In Junia Joseph’s case, she had seen evidence of mice and rats when she started staying at Rankin Ave.

“We came in and we saw black stuff which looked like mice poop but we thought that our landlord had forgotten to clean the house so we never bothered about it,” said Joseph.  

After one week, she had to face reality.

“The poop was not stopping, it was in the rooms and everywhere. The very next day a rat ran right over my leg and that was scary,” said Joseph. “That was horrifying because they were literally so huge.”

The screaming caught the neighbors attention.

“I told them what happened and they were like ‘Oh this is usual, it happens around here,’” said Joseph.

Joseph was surprised because living with rats and mice was not normal for her. She had never faced this problem in India.

“We came from a place where we’ve never seen rats. India has rats in slum areas, but in the urban areas there were no rat issues,” said Joseph. “At least I had never experienced this problem,”

Joseph called the landlord and reported the issue. He had the same attitude as her neighbors.

He responded by saying rats and mice are “normal” in Canada and, she says, he accused her and her roommates of attracting the vermin.

“How can you give an excuse saying that the previous tenants never had an issue? It’s not our fault that the rats came into the house,” said Joseph. “It looked like he was telling us you guys are dirty or you guys have brought in food stuff which is causing the rats to come in,”

“We were offended and one of my friends lost her temper and snapped back at him,” she added.

In response, the landlord come and laid traps around the house. He brought glue traps and poison.

“He did try, but it didn’t work. It worked for mice but not for the ones we saw,” said Joseph. “The mice got stuck in the rat traps because they were really tiny but the rats don’t get stuck because they are really huge.”  

Joseph kept seeing mice and rats near the grains and near the garbage.

“It’s like you’re literally tippy-toeing and going because you’re scared about something jumping out from the garbage,” said Joseph. “We could hear noises in the night and we would get scared.”

As a newcomer, Joseph did not know who could help her. She figured the landlord would resolve the issue.

But when that didn’t work Joseph chose to leave after two months.

“We couldn’t handle it anymore.” said Joseph.

“Being international students we don’t drive so finding a new house was the hardest thing especially since the semester had already started and people had already moved in.”

“Most of the houses were occupied so we had to move farther away and to move was another pain because we had to call the Uhaul,” she added.

According to Albidone, students should know their rights as renters because there are legal requirements for the landlord to provide housing to a certain standard.

“Well, like any city you have some landlords that are good and some landlords that perhaps aren’t quite as good who don’t maintain their properties as well as they should,” said Albidone.

The city has had a rodent program in place for years but it cost money to access it.

The city recognized that students and many others could not afford the help so it made a change this year.  

“What’s new this year as compared to last year is the program is completely free so last year students and people with lower income were certainly challenged because last year the program cost a hundred dollars,” said Albidone.

Students have to call 311 and contractors will be sent to inspect the property.

“So, they will have to sign a waiver and within a week we will send a contractor out who will put poison down into those burrows, cover them back up and check them on a weekly basis, up to four times,” said Albidone.

However, they don’t deal with mice and the rats inside homes.

Joseph is happy with her new rental but her first few months in Windsor have left a lasting impression.

“It was a bad experience because that’s not what you want to see when you come to a new place for the first time,” said Joseph.

She hopes the city figures out how to reduce the rodent population so Windsor will be more welcoming for future international students.

Sonia Koshy
By Sonia Koshy May 1, 2017 22:14

Latest TV Broadcast

MediaPlex Live @ 1

MediaPlex News Now

Get Social!

Follow us, Like us, Love us, Watch us, Plus!