ratRats are quite common in both rural and urban areas and, aside from the damage they can cause, they are also potential carriers of serious diseases. A rat colony can start with one individual pregnant female moving into a new area, and unless there are obvious signs of damage, such as torn packages or droppings, the infestation may not be noticed in the early stages when it’s easiest to get under control.

Except when there are a lot of rats, or food is scarce, they will generally only come out at night and daylight sightings are unlikely. Pregnancy lasts about 21 days and a single female, on average, produces a litter of about 6-8 young. These can feed themselves independently after 3 weeks and reproduce when about 8-12 weeks old.

Mortality of the young is high, and most rats live for an average of a year due to predation, but even with these factors working against them, a rat colony can grow very quickly when left unchecked. As the number of rats increases, rat presence and damage become obvious. Signs of an infestation may be one or many of the following;

  • Holes where rats are burrowing
  • Smooth tracks (runs) where rats are running along a route
  • Damage to food containers and cartons as rats gnaw at them
  • Droppings (black, about the size of a peanut)
  • Sighting of rats (if you see one, there are almost always more around)

We advise that it is best to use a trained professional to carry out the required treatment and control. Old tactics such as using mouse traps or rat poison may help you, but in many cases, it has been found that the population is either too large to control using such methods, and there have been cases where rats have built up a resistance to the poisons made available to the general public.

If you have contacted a professional to help you deal with a rat infestation, avoid feeding birds. It’s very important that rodents are left with no other food sources other than any poison bait left by the pest controller on your premises.

Even without poison bait being used, it is still a good idea to reduce any available food sources for rats. This could mean anything from compost heaps to food recycle bins. These will need to be fortified with mesh (wire, not plastic, as a rat’s sharp teeth can chew through plastic) and compost heaps, particularly if they consist of eggshells, teabags, food scraps, etc., should not be loose and should also be fortified with wire mesh. This will be of great benefit to you in the long run, as not only will rats migrate away to other food sources when their current supply runs low, but it will also discourage the activity of other nuisance scavengers, like foxes.

Remember, the advice given to you by a trained professional after an assessment is a wise investment.