Whether you’re searching for pest control Ashford or anywhere else in Kent, or 24 hour pest control London, we’re your first stop for efficient, effective and compassionate treatment. This time we’re taking a look at London rats, how a rat population boom can cause problems for residents of our capital, and what we can do to help.
The London rat issue – Living beside us
You might not see them. But every city has a large rat population and the creatures have, apparently, lived cheek by jowl with humans for thousands of years. It has always been an uneasy relationship since rats, while they’re highly intelligent and entertaining pets, also spread disease. And when they enjoy a population boom, as they sometimes do, they can become pests.
While humans don’t benefit from rats being around, rats enjoy all sorts of perks thanks to us, including food, shelter and water. They tend to go about their business quietly and discreetly, so you’d hardly know they were there. But sometimes things get out of control. Take the giant rats the ‘size of cats’ which were found living in a Tooting housing estate. They were around two feet long, and could have grown to their unusual size thanks to eating their fellow, smaller rats. Most of the capital’s rat population, however, are regular-sized brown rats, also called Norway rats, and are only about ten inches long.
Rats rarely enter buildings. According to Dr Dave Cowan from the wildlife programme at the Food and Environment Research Agency, fewer than 0.5% of buildings have rats inside and just 3% of domestic properties have rats outside, compared to 5% of commercial premises.
Britain’s sewer system is another source. There are an estimated 16,000 square kilometres of sewers in Britain, about 5% of which contain rats. And about 40% of the nation’s 200,000 or so agricultural premises have rats present. Dr Cowan has done the numbers and it looks like the old adage that you’re never more than six feet from a rat isn’t true. He estimates a human being’s average distance from a rat at any one time is 164 feet, or 50 metres.
When rats get out of control, things get nasty. But it isn’t as common as you might think. Experts use the term ‘behavioral sink‘ to describe the collapse in behaviour that happens when rats are overcrowded. Over several years, rat over-population leads to female rats not carrying their young to full term, and many don’t survive the birth process.
How do you know when you have a rat problem?
If you have heard mysterious scratching noises at night, or keep finding little brown droppings in your home or premises, you could have a rat problem. Rat poop is dark brown and looks the same shape as a grain of rice. A single rat can drop forty poops per day, so an infestation should soon become obvious.
You may also find strange greasy rub marks, made when the rats brush against surfaces, or spot holes made by brown rats who like to dig extensive burrow systems for shelter, nesting and storing food. You might spot a nest made from shredded rubbish like old newspaper or loft insulation material. You may find footprints or even tail prints. If you come across any of these, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a pest control expert before things get any worse.
Where to look? Indoors, your loft and attic are prime contenders, plus kitchens and utility rooms, behind appliances, in any gap where a pipe or cable runs, crawl spaces, suspended ceilings and cavity walls. Outdoors it’s sensible to check under decking and outbuildings, around bins, in sheds and garages, compost heaps and composters, and of course drains.
How to prevent rat infestations
The best way to discourage rats is to stop them from getting at food, water and shelter. Unlike mice, they need water every day. And while they eat almost anything, they much prefer a varied diet. It makes sense to store food securely, in metal or glass containers with tight lids.
The less mess there is, the less likely you are to encourage rats, so stash household and commercial rubbish securely so they can’t get in. Never leave old pet food lying around, keep outdoor bird feeders clean, and don’t put food waste in your compost heap or bin.
Both black and brown rats are excellent swimmers, jumpers and climbers. They can squeeze through small gaps are confident enough to use a catflap. Block all holes in outside walls, for example around pipework, and keep your roof in good condition so they can’t get in that way.
Rats sometimes swim up damaged sewer pipes and can even negotiate toilet u-bends – so keep those loo lids closed. They like to use drainage pipes too, so use metal screens to cover your drains and make sure they’re a tight fit, since rats are clever enough to break in if there’s the smallest opportunity.
Rat control London – How we can help you
We cover all areas of London and Kent. Our British Pest Control Association certified technicians are qualified to give safe, effective solutions to rat infestations, using proven, industry-leading treatments and special rodenticides, some perfect for indoors and others designed for outdoor use. We also bring regular monitoring into play to keep an eye on the situation, with a schedule of visits designed to deal with the problem with the minimum of disruption.
Whether it’s a domestic problem or one at your school, hospital, college or other commercial premises, your first step is a free survey to identify the extent of your infestation and find the rats’ access points. Then we recommend the right kind of treatments and also look at preventing future infestations