Homeowners in Derbyshire have been warned to expect ‘alarming’ growth in the population of so-called super rats during the run-up to Christmas.
Experts fear numbers of the rodents, which have grown resistant to conventional poison, could soar in the next few months boosted by a combination of colder temperatures and increasingly wet weather.
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) says the spread of the rats has been accelerated by failed home treatments, which have helped them grow bigger and stronger as well as build up their immunity.
The leading trade body has revealed many ‘over-the-counter’ remedies are now ineffective and insists control of the rodents has become a matter for professionals.
The BPCA has issued the advice ahead of National Pest Prevention Week – November 9 to 14 – an initiative designed to raise increase public awareness of all pests.
Simon Forrester, chief executive of the BPCA, said: “Reports of poison-resistant rats have been increasing in recent years and it seems likely that there will be a further surge in numbers during the coming months.
“There’s less natural food around during colder weather so the population of rodents in and around homes and business premises could swell at an alarming rate as we head into winter.
“The trouble is that people who try to treat problems themselves are likely to be making the problem worse.
“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.
“Quite 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.”
The BPCA says it’s much easier to prevent an infestation than to get rid of one and says these simple precautions can be taken 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.