What are they?
Rats are a hazard to public health. They can transmit a number of diseases which can be potentially fatal to man, such as Weil's disease. They also carry disease organisms such as Salmonella bacteria, viruses and parasites such as worms and fleas.
In an urban environment rats readily find food from a variety of sources such as refuse from commercial kitchens and restaurants, discarded takeaway food in addition to scavenging in domestic refuse or in drains and sewers.
Rats will burrow, especially into soil, compost heaps, under coverings such as paved areas and under sheds. Gas and water pipes are also at risk and rat burrowing can undermine building foundations. They can be frequently found living inside buildings in the cavity between walls and in roof spaces, or beneath piles of rubbish, near water, or in drains and sewers. Due to their agility and ability to squeeze through small openings it is sometimes difficult to keep rats out of buildings without some form of rodent proofing being carried out.
Rats have very hard incisor teeth which can penetrate materials such as concrete, lead and aluminium. This can result in expensive damage and even fires when electric cables are damaged.
Rats can breed quickly and a healthy female can produce five litters a year, each of 8 to 10 young with offspring attaining sexual maturity in 8 to 12 weeks.
It is quite easy for infestations to build up without ever noticing a rat - their nocturnal habit tends to keep them away from the human contact. If a rat is seen during the day, it is usually an indicator of a sizeable infestation. Signs of an infestation may include droppings, gnaw marks, runs and smears marks produced by the continual rubbing of their fur against surfaces.
How to prevent an infestation:
- Ensure that all defective drainage to your home is promptly repaired, such as broken drainpipes, and drainage chamber covers
- Ensure your bin is emptied regularly, and refuse is not allowed to accumulate in the yard or garden
- Seal structural defects in the house to prevent rats gaining access to your home
- If feeding wild birds in your garden, you should use suspended wire feeders, not put food directly on the ground, use only enough bird food for the day and clear any spillages
Removing easily accessible food and eliminating shelter for rats are among the most basic and important preventative measures.
Last Updated on Wednesday, October 19, 2022