Do you smell a rat?

NUM­BERS OF RO­DENTS IN­VAD­ING HOMES ARE SET TO SOAR

Uxbridge Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - KATY CLIFTON by katy.clifton@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Katy_Clifton1

WE’VE had the in­va­sion of mas­sive spi­ders , and now res­i­dents are be­ing warned of rats com­ing into homes this au­tumn.

Rat in­va­sions are ex­pected to soar in the new few months, due to cooler tem­per­a­tures and wet weather, as rats aban­don sum­mer habi­tats and head in­side for food and shel­ter.

A na­tional sur­vey, car­ried out by the Bri­tish Pest Con­trol As­so­ci­a­tion (BPCA), has re­vealed the stag­ger­ing num­ber of pest con­trol call-outs each lo­cal author­ity dealt with last year.

In Hilling­don bor­ough, with a pop­u­la­tion of 304,000, there were 1,183 pest con­trol call-outs last year, 879 of which were rat-re­lated.

Nearly 800 homes in Eal­ing ex­pe­ri­enced a rat in­va­sion last year, with 2,788 call-outs to pest con­trol over­all – the ma­jor­ity of which dealt with mice.

The bor­ough of Ham­mer­smith and Ful­ham ex­pe­ri­enced a sim­i­lar amount of rats to Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea , with around 200 call-outs in each.

Houn­slow, with 1,632 call-outs over­all, had 644 rat prob­lems, and Har­row, which had 1,225 call-outs, had a com­par­a­tively low 359 calls about rats.

Rich­mond, with a pop­u­la­tion of 186,990, had more than 1,266 call outs, more than half of which were rat re­lated.

The lo­cal author­ity for Brent did not re­spond to the Bri­tish Pest Con­trol As­so­ci­a­tion re­quest for in­for­ma­tion for their sur­vey.

Dee Ward-Thomp­son, BPCA’s tech­ni­cal man­ager, said res­i­dents should be do­ing all they can now to pro­tect their prop­er­ties.

“Rain washes rats out of sew­ers and other nest­ing places and, in­evitably, they go look­ing for shel­ter in higher ground,” she said.

“They will try to find some sort of dwelling and that could be lofts, garages or sheds.

“Our mem­bers re­port the num­ber of calls to deal with in­fes­ta­tions of­ten rises in the au­tumn when the tem­per­a­ture drops of­ten quite dra­mat­i­cally and we’re ex­pect­ing a sim­i­lar pat­tern this time.”

A typ­i­cal home may have more than a dozen po­ten­tial en­try points for the ro­dents.

The ro­dents can get through gaps as small as 15mm, of­ten us­ing plumb­ing pipes and un­screened vents or gaps in the eaves and roof edges.

Mrs Ward-Thomp­son added: “The first ev­i­dence of rats in a home is of­ten noises un­der the floor, in the walls or loft as that’s where most will head to once they’re in­side.

“Apart from the health risks, they’ll foul wa­ter tanks and chew on wood or elec­tri­cal wires which can cause a lot of dam­age and poses a fire hazard. They’ll also do their best to find sources of food, which means they can soon move to other ar­eas of the house oc­cu­pied by hu­mans.

“Rats also breed rapidly and will cre­ate nests in at­tics or walls, so it’s vi­tal to act as soon as any ev­i­dence is found.”

How can I pro­tect my home from rats?

BPCA said it is eas­ier to prevent an in­fes­ta­tion than to get rid of one and of­fered some sim­ple pre­cau­tions to re­duce the risk.

In­spect prop­er­ties thor­oughly and seal up any ex­ter­nal gaps, holes or crevices that could pro­vide rats with a way in.

Re­move po­ten­tial nest­ing sites by keep­ing yards and gar­dens clean and tidy, cut­ting back over­grown ar­eas and clear­ing any piles of wood or de­bris.

En­sure doors and win­dows can be closed prop­erly and that drain in­spec­tion cov­ers are well main­tained.

Keep bins well main­tained with their lids closed, dis­pose of rub­bish care­fully and don’t leave left­over food ly­ing around. Com­post heaps should be cov­ered.

Ar­eas around bird feed­ers should be kept clean and pet food bowls should not be left out overnight.

What if rats have in­vaded my home?

Ac­cord­ing to the non-profit BPCA, it is im­por­tant for any­one who does find an in­fes­ta­tion to em­ploy recog­nised pro­fes­sion­als.

Mrs Ward-Thomp­son added: “Rats must be dealt with by an ex­pert tech­ni­cian who knows the area in ques­tion and their likely habi­tat, and knows how to treat any par­tic­u­lar strain. Most peo­ple sim­ply want the job done right first time and, by em­ploy­ing a com­pany or in­di­vid­ual af­fil­i­ated with the BPCA, they can be sure they are us­ing an ex­pert.”

IM­AGE: PA

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