Pest Control - Rats
What do they look like?
The common or ‘sewer’ rat has brownish fur on its back and is grey underneath although the colour can vary from white through to black. Adult body length is 200-270mm plus a tail length of 150-200mm. The maximum number of young rats produced by a pair and their offspring in a year is about 200.
The ship or ‘black’ rat that is now rarely encountered in this area is smaller than the common rat. It has large hairless ears and a tail that is longer than its head and body length.
Where do they live?
Common rats live in any situation that provides food, water and shelter. In houses they will live in loft spaces, cavity walls or under floorboards. In gardens they will burrow into compost heaps and grassy banks or under sheds. They are also found living in sewer systems and drains.
What do they eat?
Their favourite foods are cereal products, although they will eat almost anything that humans eat. They obtain access to foods by gnawing and ripping open packets and boxes. Rats will contaminate food with urine and droppings.
Why are they a pest?
They can transmit many diseases to humans including Salmonellosis (food poisoning) and Weils disease.
Rats eat and contaminate food intended for humans. It is estimated that upto 5% of food produced worldwide is spoilt as a result of rodent activity.
Rats damage buildings and other structures by gnawing and burrowing.
Rats can gnaw wiring creating the potential for a fire to start. As a precaution, if you have rodents in your home you should ensure that you have at least one working smoke detector installed
What are the signs of infestation?
- Sightings of live rats
- Droppings (Common rat droppings can be 12mm long and taper at both ends)
- Rat Runs (Rats follow the same routes when travelling and leave trails through grass and low vegetation)
- Footprints and tail-swipes can sometimes be seen on muddy or dusty services
- Smear marks (Dark grey marks left on surfaces by repeated contact with greasy rat fur)
- Burrows (Entrance holes to burrows may sometimes be seen in grassy banks, under tree roots and at the edge of paving, they are usually between 60-120mm
- Nests (Can sometimes be found indoors in lofts or under floorboards)
- Gnawing (Rats gnaw continually even on non-food materials in order to wear down their front teeth)
What can I do to prevent an infestation?
- Remove potential nesting sites by keeping yards and gardens clean and tidy and by cutting back overgrowth
- Do not feed wild birds or other animals in excess, you could well be feeding rats as well
- Keep your home in good repair so that rat’s cannot gain access to it. Ensure that any drain inspection covers are in good repair
- Do not leave household waste where rats can get access to it
- If you have a compost heap do not put excessive amounts of food waste on it
How can I get rid of rats?
- Rats are adaptable, highly mobile and breed rapidly. This combination makes rat control a difficult task for the individual.
- The Council currently provides a free service for the treatment of rats in domestic premises and gardens. Pest control officers may survey the infestation and may use poison bait in appropriate locations to eradicate any rats. Follow-up visits may be made to check the success of the treatment. For further advice or to report an infestation please contact us on (01656) 643643 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- ‘Do it yourself’ rodent control equipment and poison is available from most garden centres and hardware stores. If you intend to treat the infestation yourself, equipment and poison should always be used in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.
- If you want to employ a private company to treat the problem for you, you should try to ensure that they are members of the British Pest Control Association. Details of companies can be found in the Yellow Pages or Thomson Directories. These private companies will charge for carrying out any treatment.