Growing season is well underway and experts at national trade body, British Pest Control Association (BPCA), are urging householders to check for signs of rats.
Rats that have moved into the garden can come into contact with children or pets – and may find a way into the home.
John Horsley, Technical Officer at BPCA, said: “Rat holes in grassy banks or beside solid structures such as sheds and summerhouses could indicate a nest is present.
“Female rats can reproduce every six weeks. On average they will produce litters of six to eight offspring, but possibly as many as 16, which means a rat infestation can quickly grow out of control.
“Rats need shelter, a handy food source and access to water – and once they’ve moved into your garden, it could only be a matter of time before they discover a route indoors.”
Common signs that rats are present in a home or garden include:
- Dark, pellet shaped droppings clustered in one area
- Gnaw marks on wood, electrical cables, brick, pipes
- Torn/gnawed bags and materials
- Footprints or tail marks in dusty areas
Yards and gardens are potential nesting sites, so keep them clean and tidy by cutting back overgrown areas and clearing any piles of wood or debris. It’s also a good idea to monitor any bird feeders in your garden for rat activity.
A bird table or feeder basket can catch any cast-off seed and bringing them indoors at dusk will prevent rats feasting overnight.
Rats can squeeze through a 12mm x 18mm gap – wire wool and quick-setting cement can be used to seal up gaps around exterior cables and pipework as well as around windows and doors. Drain covers should be in a good state of repair and any disused pipes sealed off.
Bins and recycling containers should also be checked regularly to ensure lids close securely and there are no access points for rats to get at your household rubbish.
BPCA has an online guide to rats with more information and advice at: bpca.org.uk/rats
John added: “Rats are usually more of an issue in the autumn when they are looking for somewhere warm to shelter, but we wouldn’t recommend letting them settle down in your garden during warmer weather either.
“If you spot signs of an infestation, we recommend acting quickly and contacting a pest professional such as a BPCA member.”
BPCA members are trained, experienced professionals with access to a range of specialist products not available to the public as well as being regularly assessed to the British Standard in Pest Management BS EN 16636.
To find a professional pest controller visit bpca.org.uk/find