06/26/2015 04:41 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT

'Rat circus' taking over James Place backyard, says resident

A woman living in Newfoundland and Labrador Housing on James Place in St. John's says a family of rats is settling in around her home, and she's worried the rodents will get inside.

Nikki Lewis says the rat population spiked a few weeks ago, and she alerted the housing authority to the problem, but added she has yet to receive significant help in getting rid of the rats.

Lewis says it has been a nightmare for her and her three-year-old daughter.

"I'm afraid for my daughter's safety, for my safety. I'm afraid they're going to get in my house. Housing won't do anything until they get into my house," she said.

"I'm afraid to cook … I'm afraid the smell is going to bring them around with the fan going. I'm afraid to open my dryer, afraid they're going to fly out at me."

Newfoundland and Labrador Housing sent pest control to James Place and set up an exterior bait station, but that hasn't worked, says Lewis. 

A statement from the housing authority to CBC News didn't indicate any further action would be taken.

"Housing says there's nothing they can do unless it gets in my house. Like, are you kidding me?" she said.

Young daughter 'obsessed'

The neighbourhood is aware of the rat problem and residents say they've been extra cautious when it comes to putting garbage out.

However, with a grocery store, convenience store and fast food locations just across the street, the rats likely aren't starving.

Lewis said the rats vary in size, from really small to "massive," and show no signs of moving on, which has put a big strain on her and her child.

"I haven't slept in days, I haven't slept at all and my little girl, she got her bag packed almost two weeks, waiting to go, waiting to move out, waiting for the rats to come in here. And she's leaving, no ifs, ands or buts, she's going," she said.

"She comes home here from daycare, she'll come home at 4:30, she'll put her little chair right there [at the back window] and stay there. Never mind watching cartoons or playing with her dollies anymore, it's sat there with a snack watching the rats, she's so obsessed."

'It's not right'

Lewis was so distressed that she asked her neighbour, Serina Ball, to come over and record video to have proof of the number of rats in the area.

According to Ball, she didn't have to wait long before she spotted the first one.

"I stood in these windows for two days straight taking videos of these rats. I was stunned, like, I was petrified … I bet you I stood there for six hours catching these rats on video," said Ball.

"Anybody want to come to James Place, come. Have a rat circus, $5 a head, you know, come see them. You can stand outside and watch them. It's not right — she has a little girl."

Pest control expert Rod Squires visited the home Thursday afternoon and confirmed for Lewis there were a number of spots where the rats have burrowed in.

"To see rats in the daytime, and they're juvenile rats, that is a pure indication that it is a population of them here," said Squires.