Rats used to be seasonal pests, however with the changing climate, calls about rats are flooding in through all months of the year...
The scratching starts at 4 am. "And I know exactly what the bloody things are," says the frustrated homeowner, who doesn't want to boast about his problem. He's got rats. Furry-bodied, bare-tailed rodents are running through his loft space, gnawing their incisors down on his walls, keeping him awake at night.
It often starts with a small scraping sound that is simply put down to a noisy washing machine or fridge, but prevention normally starts when the rodents are actually seen for the first time.
Understandably, professional help is only sought after a prolonged period of unsuccessful DIY pest control – generally comprising of setting traps, putting out poison and sealing holes.
Within the pest control industry, there is a shared respect for rats in particular as they are highly intelligent creatures. Basically, they're just another animal trying to survive in this world.
Without doubt it's the tail that throws people. Without that appendage, they'd look just like a hamster. People are also wary of their association with plague and disease – viruses and bacteria, fleas, ticks and lice live on their bodies.
Rats in the kitchen have even ended marriages. It's a very serious thing. One of the two people won't do anything about it and the other is beside themselves with worry and anger. There's something about rats that wears on people. But rats are far more afraid of people: they only bother us because we have what they want – food and water.
Rat control used to be a seasonal occupation, with calls generally only coming in between October and April. But with climate changing, we're getting funnier winters and funnier summers and springs. We tend to get rats all year round now.
Of course, rats can be prolofic breeders given the right conditions. However, the average house call generally leads to small numbers of rats, which can be dealt with reasonably easily. There are two lines of defence. The first is the exterior walls where they break through and get into the shell of the house – the loft, ceiling boards, wall cavities. The second line of defence is where they start breaking into your living space.
The first place to check is behind the cooker and under the kitchen sink as this is where rats can come through the plumbing into a living area. Footprints on the pipes are a dead giveaway. Even if there are no visible droppings, you can still see footprints in the dust on the pipes.
The next step is to bait the traps. Forget cheese and other stereo-typical rat baits: peanut butter is a far and away the most successful lure. Once smeared with big globs of the stuff, the traps should be set where the rats have been heard moving around.
The rat control strategy employed is to rodent-proof the inside of the home, trap the rats, then seal the building from the outside so no more can go in. If you repair the outside first then trap inside, you'll come down for breakfast and find big holes in the drywall. Rats need a significant amount of water every day. If you separate them from water, they will chew through the wall into the living space.
Outside, the exterior of the house should be carefully examined to find places the rats can squeeze through. These gaps should be sealed.
Article provided by Dynamic Pest Control