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Rentokil reveals the pandemic’s impact on rodent behaviour as migration season starts

Data released today by Rentokil Pest Control shows a 22 per cent increase in rodent enquiries compared to the summer average over the past six years (June – August inclusive).

The increase in enquiries could be attributed in part to the mild winter experienced last year, which may have extended the rodent breeding season. This could also mean that a larger population of rats will be heading indoors as the weather cools, to search for food, water and safe harbourage.

The experts in pest control also noted that rodents have increasingly been seen in broad daylight, despite being nocturnal creatures. It suggests businesses generating less waste during the lockdown period in the first half of this year, combined with larger nest sizes, has forced rodents to search for food during the day.

To help further uncover the impact the initial lockdown had on Britain’s rodent population, the pest controller polled 121 of its frontline pest technicians across the country. While residential properties made up the biggest proportion of call outs during this period, when restrictions lifted the pattern of visits shifted to commercial premises. Pest technicians said they are now most commonly called to restaurants (43 per cent), pubs (42 per cent), residential properties (41 per cent) and offices (36 per cent).

More than half (59 per cent) of technicians said they believed the lockdown period from March – June had caused rodents to become more confident, with rats entering homes through toilets, and in one case through a person’s letter box.

With some regional lockdowns now in force, and people being told to work from home if they can, Rentokil suggests rodent sightings may continue, as they search for food near to homes and vacant business premises. It recommends that homeowners and businesses remain vigilant for signs of rodent activity and seal off any potential entry points of a building.

Sealing potential entry points for rodents is the most effective way to prevent a rodent problem, yet almost all technicians surveyed (90 per cent) said that customers who experienced infestations had not fully rodent-proofed their premises.

The Rentokil Pest Control technicians surveyed said their commercial customers’ top pest control priorities were understanding how rodents got into their premises (75 per cent), demonstrating hygiene compliance (56 per cent), ensuring costs are managed (46 per cent) and ensuring their onsite pest control is sustainable and environmentally friendly (43 per cent).

For businesses seeking to ensure they have the most effective pest control strategies in place, pest controllers recommend that digital solutions are deployed as the first line of defence. Rentokil’s PestConnect is one of these, a connected 24/7 digital pest management solution. It gives pest controllers precise data on when and where rodents enter premises. This system is helping businesses across the country gain a better understanding as to how, why and when rodents enter their business, so they can put proofing measures and operational solutions in place to better protect their premises.

With thousands of these pest management systems deployed across the UK, analysis has shown the most common time for a rodent to enter a food warehouse is 0.26am, a restaurant 11.47pm and a supermarket 0.10am. Further analysis shows that 30 per cent of break ins by rodents occur in the loading bay areas of distribution centres, supermarkets and warehouses. In these locations gaps around dock levellers are often large enough to allow for rodent ingress and specific proofing of these areas is advised.

Paul Blackhurst, Head of Technical Academy at Rentokil Pest Control explained: “Rodent populations increased over the first national lockdown, to the extent that nests are now over spilling. Rats are more often seen during the day if the population has been disturbed and forced to move on, and secondly if the population gets too large then the young males will be ejected from their clan.

“Given the growing population, as well as the mild winter and decent summer, it is possible that more businesses will record increases in rodent activity over the coming winter months. We advise businesses to take proactive measures to prevent pests from taking up residence in their facilities.

“Digital pest prevention technology is particularly useful in the current environment when it is important to avoid unnecessary footfall onsite. PestConnect remotely monitors and protects businesses 24/7, providing an alert only when a rodent is detected, so rodent populations can be managed more effectively.”


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