Rat Infestation in Cold Cellar in Old Toronto

Rat Infestation in Cold Cellar in Old Toronto

The following case study will look at a rat infestation that took place in a heritage home in Old Toronto. The residence is close to a busy strip of various businesses and restaurants and is located close to the iconic Parkdale community.

Exterior infestation

The homeowners of the residential property were complaining about noises being heard from the walls down at the basement floor of the property. Gnawing, chewing, and rustling were heard before suspected that it came from a cold cellar. A cold cellar is a fixture in heritage homes like these before modern refrigeration became the norm over the years.

The homeowners called a technician to handle the case. Once the technician arrived on-site, the technician began conducting an exterior inspection. The exterior inspection is one of the most important inspections that are conducted besides the interior inspection. During the exterior inspection, the technician carefully combs the perimeter of the property to find possible entry points and weak points that can be exploited if no reinforcement is done.

Interior inspection

The technician then started the interior inspection which led the technician downstairs. To even start the process, the technician started to call in the help of a second technician. The defunct cold cellar was filled with dirt and sand which explains why the rodents had so much freedom to move. After the arduous task of removing sand and dirt, burrows were uncovered which revealed a tunnelling system that went beyond and behind the cold room.

Inside of cold cellar
the interior of the cold celler

Initial  Measures Taken.

As mentioned before, a whole network of burrows was uncovered. Feces were also spotted which confirmed suspicions of a rat infestation. Rat feces are larger than mouse feces and can be recognized by their color which is black to brown and to tips that are pointy.

rat snap trap
Before sealing the entry points, technicians need to get rid of all the rats using snap traps

The uncovering of the cold cellar also revealed a poor attempt at stopping the onslaught of rats with mere gap filler. This offered no defence at all since the rats easily bit through the material. Before the exclusion process had to take place, the technicians wanted to take care of the rats first. They placed interior snap traps that are designed to kill on first contact. Once the rats were taken care of, the technicians were ready to move on to the next stage of the rat extermination process.

failed attempt at keeping rats away
Gap filler was applied, but it resulted in a poor and failed attempt to keep rats away


The technician moved on to the last and final stage of the rat extermination process. According to the technicians, the rats were able to enter from beneath the floor of the now-defunct cold cellar. Rats were able to find the premises because of old utility pipes that were once in use. Even though these pipes are now defunct and not used, rats can easily find their way above ground by using their impeccable digging skills.

rat burrows
After the removal of dirt and sand, a complex network of rat burrows was uncovered

To stop the rats from coming back in, the technicians decide on encapsulating the crawlspace/cold cellar. Encapsulating entails that the whole space will be reinforced with galvanized steel mesh. This includes the walls and the floor as well. The mesh will then be secured with bolts and washers.  The material is pliable as well as robust enough to fend off rats for the foreseeable future.

mesh on floor
The technicians were able to encapsulate the entire cold cellar by wrapping it top to bottom in galvanized steel mesh.


Once the cold cellar had been encapsulated and the rats excluded from the property, no complaints were ever heard from the homeowners. This is a reminder of how susceptible heritage homes are that are located in older neighbourhoods in Old Toronto. If you hear suspicious noises behind walls, you might be dealing with an ongoing rat infestation and that professional intervention is needed. Professionals are able to detect weak spots and seal them off. They can also make sure that rodents won’t ever be an issue with the use of strategic planning involving traps, bait, and eventual sealing. Call our customer representatives to set up your next appointment!