Rat Pest Control Spotlight – A Feast Fit for a Rat
The old adage that you are never more than six feet away from a rat in the UK is almost certainly not accurate. However, certain human behaviours can increase the likelihood of attracting larger numbers of rats to your home and garden spaces. Avon Pest Control is answering a few FAQ’s about rat pest control in Britain.
Dr Dave Cowan, the Food and Environment Research Agency’s wildlife programme lead explains that, “rats are almost completely commensal in Britain, [meaning] they’re associated with human activities.”.
Rats live in close proximity to people, using human habitats, water and food sources. Certain human activities may deter rat numbers, such as keeping cats, whilst other activities, such as keeping chickens, feeding wild birds, and maintaining a compost bin or heap can encourage rat numbers.
Rats are not picky eaters and will eat almost anything. They will happily eat their way through food left out for birds, including chickens and wild birds, and merrily dine on rotting scraps in compost bins and heaps.
Signs of a Rat Infestation
The first sign that you may have a rat infestation may be increased sightings of the rats themselves. You may also see rat droppings, which can be identified by their 15mm by 5mm size, cylindrical shape, and rounded end.
For compost heaps and bins, tunnels at the base of the heap or bin, or holes chewed into the side of the bin itself are often the first sign that rats have taken up residence.
You may also see such burrows that lead under chicken coops, as well as chew damage to fencing and pens, holes in coop flooring, a notable increase in using extra feed and missing eggs.
Shredded paper lining your compost bin may be spotted, which will have been brought in by the rats, as both compost heaps and bins can provide warmth, shelter, and food, making them an ideal nesting location. This can be a particular problem at this time of year and into the winter months as compost will have a good supply of kitchen scraps added to the top, whilst the lower sections of the bin or heap remain undisturbed.
Why is a Rat Infestation a Serious Health Problem?
Firstly, rats are eating your feed or scraps meant for compost, wild birds, or chickens. For chicken owners, rats may not stop at the feed itself, and have been known to steal eggs and eat newborn chicks. Rats also carry disease and parasites and can contaminate areas with their urine and droppings.
What can I Do to Deter Rats?
Rats will tend to vacate an area if there is no food source, so you could consider removing bird feeders, rethinking keeping chickens and compost. However, if such activities are important to you, the following suggestions my reduce your pest problem;
- Choose your bird feeder and seed wisely, e.g., if you use small seed, do not use a feeder with a large feeding port or more seed will fall to the ground. Consider using a no mess seed mix.
- Move your bird feeder away from tree branches to limit an easy way for rats to access your bird feeder. Consider installing a tubular or dome baffle.
- Clean up any spilled bird food or chicken feed before it gets dark.
- Store wild bird food and chicken feed in airtight containers.
- Remove all food and water sources at night.
- For coops, use galvanised wire mesh.
- For compost, consider using a fully enclosed tumbler bin rather than a heap. As rats often burrow in from below, consider placing your compost bin on a concrete slab.
If rats are causing a pest problem for you, it is important to act quickly as breeding rates in rats are high. Due to the risk of disease, it’s best to leave rats to the professionals… Call Avon Pest Control today for specialist advice, information, and removal/treatment pricing. Let our team sort your pest problem for you.