A national trade body has warned to be on guard as milder winters drive a rise in rats.
Cold winters create a ‘natural cull’ of the pest’s population, but warmer weather in recent years has seen numbers increase.
Now the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has published a new online guide to help businesses prevent problems with rats.
The guide – which highlights the signs and dangers of an infestation – can be found on BPCA‘s website along with an accompanying video.
It delves into the life cycle and habits of rats, as well as giving tips on avoiding infestation and sign-posting companies to professional pest control.
Rats represent a significant public health risk as they urinate wherever they go. They can spread diseases including Salmonella and Weil’s disease to humans when they – or their urine – come into contact with food preparation areas.
Dee Ward-Thomas, Technical Manager at BPCA said: “The problems associated with rats are not just limited to public health. They can also cause structural damage.
“Rats have to gnaw in order to keep their teeth in shape, and they’re not shy about what they gnaw on.
“Common ‘gnaw-spots’ include the sheathing around electrical cables, which present a significant fire risk, and pipes, which is likely to result in leaks, both water and gas.
“Cinderblock, wood, glass, metal – rats’ teeth will take on pretty much any challenge, which is why they can cause untold damage to both homes and businesses.”
Property owners have a legal obligation under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to keep premises rodent free, or, if rodents pose a threat to health or property, to report infestations to the local authority.
Environmental Health Officers can issue enforcement notices to business owners who don’t have adequate pest management procedures in place.
And businesses found to have a pest problem can also face fines with repeat offenders in danger of facing legal action.
Ward-Thomas added: “For any rat infestation, we would always recommend contacting a professional pest management company, a member of BPCA.
“They are trained in rodent control and will have access to a range of professional-use rodenticides and tools, which are not available to the public.
“Knowing how much, where, and when to deploy products is where professionals are able to take control of situations efficiently.
“A pest professional will have access to monitoring equipment, which they will use to confirm entry points into your property, the size of the infestation and to track the rat to its harbourage (nest).
“They can then recommend a proofing strategy and decide on the best course of action in terms of control; this could be traps, rodenticides or a combination of both.”
For more advice about preventing or dealing with rats, the new online guide and video are available at bpca.org.uk/rats
To find a trusted pest professional in your area visit: bpca.org.uk/find