The adaptable pest
Rats have been living amongst humans for hundreds of years; the habitats we create and the waste we dispose of suit rats well and they make the best of it. Equally at home under – or in – a garden shed, they will just as likely be found in a loft or sewer. They can thrive while still carrying diseases that give us, at best, an uncomfortable couple of days or, at worst, something as life-threatening as Weil’s (Leptospirosis). Living with a rat infestation is really not an option.
Identifying a rat problem
It can be very difficult for a homeowner to identify if noises are made by a squirrel, rat or mouse – the three most common rodent pests – but a professional can tell by secondary signs; droppings, the time of day and location of the noises and so on.
Burrow holes, as here, are a dead-giveaway that rats are living under the footprint of a building. Unfortunately, they often find a way into the cavity, climbing up the void and the first the homeowner knows about it is the noises coming from the loft.
Faulty sewerage is, all too often, the cause of a rat problem and in these cases, it’s normal not to see any signs of entry at ground level. Frequently caused by building faults (a kitchen or bathroom being moved and the original pipework not getting capped-off correctly) or a failure of a pipe run (fracture of the pipe or heave/subsidence causing the pipes to break apart), the rats exit the pipework and dig up through the soil, often surfacing under the building. In cases where we suspect there is a fault with the sewer, we’ll suggest a CCTV survey of the pipework is undertaken.
Dealing with rats
For rats that are inside buildings, finding and closing off the point of entry is the best way forward. This always leaves the possibility that some have been trapped inside but we’ll deal with that as part of the problem. For rats outside, modifying the environment is the only practical solution; using traps or baits will only offer a temporary reprieve at best – and both carry secondary risks that make them less than ideal in any number of situations.