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Rats and flooding: putting your home at risk

Rat enters home

When Hurricane Angus struck the UK last week, it certainly created a great deal of damage. Of course, some people were able to turn what could have been a disaster into something a little more pleasant, such as the people on a GWR train who found themselves stranded at Taunton with free pizza courtesy of Domino’s Pizza and Great Western Railways.

For many, however, it was simply a disaster. The images of flooding I saw on the television and in papers were awful and made you thankful it wasn’t your home which was filling with water. And then, today, I have read that some forecasters are now predicting a drop in temperatures and heavy snow in the aftermath of Hurricane Angus. It is certainly time to batten down the hatches so that whatever the weather is like outside, you’ll stay nice and warm inside.

The problem is, it isn’t just us that likes to stay warm and toasty during the winter months and, after an unusually warm year, there are plenty of rats looking to make a home for themselves. Rats are highly adaptive creatures; they can gain access through a hole as small as 2cm and will use plumbing pipes, unscreened vents, or gaps in eaves and roof edges to gain access to your home.

Around the country, local and national newspapers have heeded the warnings of Dee Ward-Thompson from the British Pest Control Association. In numerous articles reprinted around the UK, she has warned of the health risks associated with rodent infestations, including: fouled water tanks, chewed wooden structures and electrical wires, which may cause fires. Often the first evidence you’ll have that rodents have moved in will be strange noises under the floor, or in the walls or lofts and, because they breed rapidly, it is vital to act as soon as you have evidence of their arrival. I would also say that you should also be on the lookout for large droppings, footprints and evidence of gnawing damage.

Flooding also creates a second impetus for the rodents to move, because flooding will waterlog their natural homes in sewers and burrows.  Naturally, because they are looking for warmth, protection, food and fresh water, your home becomes the ideal location for their new home.

Certainly, if you find you have rats in your home, I would advise you get a pest control expert in without delay. There are, however, some things you can do to try to protect your home against a possible invasion.  Firstly, look around your home to see if there are any broken air bricks or large gaps around doors or windows. As I said above, a rat can gain entry through a hole as small as 2cm. Secondly, it is a good idea to fit ‘interceptors’ to your drains to stop them entering through your outlets. The final thing I’d advise, and with Christmas coming this isn’t always easy, try to make sure your put all food waste into sealed bins. We often find rat nests under garden sheds because it gives them easy access to the compost pile, which the owners use to discard food waste. Rats are not fussy, they will take advantage of any food they can get access to.

For more information on rats, including some advice on how to protect against them, click here to view our Rat Pest Page.

Who knows if the predicted snows will arrive next week, but we do know that temperatures will drop over the next few weeks and the rodents will be on the move. Now is the ideal time to make sure you have taken the appropriate action to make sure they don’t move into your home.