I am often asked “How can I get rid of rats?.”
Rats and mice cause untold damage by gnawing through the fabric of buildings and damaging products and possessions. Rats spread diseases such as Leptospirosis, Toxoplasmosis and Hantavirus. An integrated pest management strategy is needed to control rodents.
First of all, don’t buy any “rat poison”. Without the proper certification you will only be able to purchase “amateur use” rodenticides in the UK. This means that whilst the active ingredient is possibly strong enough to kill the average rat, it may not be strong enough to kill every rat that consumes it. This leads to both learned resistance in the individual rat (it won’t eat anything that has made it ill before) and genetic resistance in the general rat population (those that survive become resistant to toxic baits and they continue to reproduce).
Also, live rats beneath your floorboards are bad enough, but dead rats really stink!
Rats are large and their corpses takes a long time to decompose. There is a fair chance that your house will be filled with a horrible smell, maggots and flies. I know, I am regularly called out to remove dead rats that have died in inconvenient locations such as under floorboards, behind kitchen units or in roof spaces. It is not a pleasant job.
At the same time, you can’t live alongside them, so you call a professional pest controller. But what happens next? What should you expect?
First, we survey the property for rodent activity. Starting with a look around the outside for obvious defects such as broken air vents or open pipe holes that would give access to the wall cavity. At this point we may also consider a drain survey. A drain survey involves sending a camera probe up the main drain from your property to identify any faults that would allow rodents to gain access. Moving indoors we start at the bottom, in the cellar or under the floorboards if access is available. Moving carefully up and checking every room, including the loft. We survey behind units and appliances. We will inspect behind the toilet, bath panel and, if present, the back of the airing cupboard. Often the first sign of a rat infestation is when overflow pipes are gnawed through leading to leaks.
Rats are fantastic climbers and will make their way up to the roof space via the wall cavity. Once there they are free to burrow under insulation, or make a nest from cardboard or papers stored up there. People often don’t see the signs until the start of December when they enter the loft to bring the Christmas decorations down.
Treatment depends on what (if any) evidence is found. Frequently the first course of treatment will be traps in secure locations to try and eliminate individual pests. However, all situations are different and in some cases toxic baits may be the best course of action. In others, simple habitat management may be better.
Finally, possibly most importantly, your home needs to be rodent-proofed. Gaps filled, airbricks repaired and any water leaks fixed.
As detailed above, a survey is the first step. Our survey costs £45. This will be deducted from the price of any treatment carried out on the information gained from that survey.
Exclude and Deny
Rodent control is not just about using poisons. Other methods must be considered first:
Non Toxic, Non Lethal
Block any possible access routes. Deny them access to food, water and harbourage. Often this is as simple as making basic repairs to structures and clearing rubbish away.
Non Toxic, Lethal
Place traps in suitable locations to catch and kill rodents. This has the advantage that I can easily recover the bodies and verify that control is effective.
Professional use only rodenticides are placed in secure locations (such as purpose made bait stations) thus targeting only rats or mice. I will search for and remove bodies on each subsequent visit when using this strategy.
Pets And Local Wildlife
The initial site survey will highlight any risks to pets or local wildlife and ensure they are minimised. I only carry out control methods that the customer is happy with and I will explain all aspects of any strategy at length on request.