Rats fall into the broad category of rodents and share many characteristics with other rodent mammals such as mice, squirrels and voles.
Rodents are distinguished from other mammals by the exclusive nature of their teeth that continuously grow, resulting in constant gnawing.
The name "rodent" is derived from the Latin word "rodere" meaning "to gnaw".
This is the one characteristic that all rodents have in common but despite this, rats have many unique biological and behavioural traits.
In the UK, there are two main rat species that are considered as pests:
1) Rattus Norvegicus- The Norway, sewer, common or brown rat.
2) Rattus rattus- The ship, roof or black rat.
The Norway rat is thought to have originated in Northern China and more than likely arrived in Britain in the 18th century via shipping routes.
A large number of ships sailed to Britain from Russia and Norway, hence the name Norway rat. They particularly thrive in urban environments, especially where refuse collects and drains and sewers have been installed.
Norway rats are by far the most common rat species in the UK and are present in both urban and rural counties. They are burrowing species that are not fond of climbing, but will do so if the need arises. Their burrowing systems can be quite complex, consisting of numerous interconnecting tunnels and multiple entry points.
Norway rats live largely outdoors but as opportunists, they will find their way indoors via access points such as drains and gaps in walls. They live in colonies in which a high ranking male and female enjoy privileged access to food sources.
This allows the female to secure a higher breeding rate success as she does not have to forage for food and can therefore remain safe and well rested in her burrow.
The ship rat is thought to have originated in Southeast Asia and their presence dates back as far as the 3rd and 4th centuries. They were once the dominant rat species in Britain, however they are now rare and are mainly confined to port areas. Unlike the Norway rat, they live indoors and are not found in our sewer systems.
STEP 1: Inspection & Planing
Our expert British Pest Control Association (BPCA) trained rat exterminator will survey your premises and determine the species of rat invading your property as well as the damage that they may have caused. Your technician will then tailor the most cost-effective eradication plan which would be thoroughly explained to you.
STEP 2: Treatment 1
Depending on the type and extent of infestation, bait boxes and/or spring traps would be laid in targeted areas and left for one week.
STEP 3: Progress Review:
Your technician would return to check/rebait the traps and/or reposition them depending on signs of activity.
STEP 4: Prevention
The final stage involves the proofing of all potential entry points to prevent any further access and the removal of all traps/rodents.
In order to effectively control rats, it is imperative that we understand how they interact with their environment. Like humans, rats rely on their 5 senses and respond appropriately to ensure their survival.
If you opt for the recommended three part visit, we offer flexible payment options allowing you to pay in 3 x installments after each visit to help you spread the cost.
Ship rats are of a medium size and are very agile. They are equally comfortable on and off the ground and are frequently spotted in trees where they try to evade predators and humans. If they are forced to live on the ground, they tend to use natural cavities such as rocks and walls to shelter them rather than burrowing like the Norway rat.
Contrary to popular belief, rats are not comfortable living with humans. A few however have adapted to human presence and thrive in such environments. These type of rodents are known as "commensal" rodents and their adaptability has enabled their survival.
Rats are nocturnal creatures and are mainly active during the hours of darkness where human activity is at its lowest and food sources are at their highest. Despite this, certain circumstances such as shift work could change this pattern so it's always important to consider environment factors and factor them into your control plan.
When adequate food sources and shelter are present, rats tend to have a restricted area of movement and stick to common, known routes. They live close to their food source which is usually within 30 meters of their burrow.
We have already established that rats like routine/familiarity and this is a crucial factor when it comes to their control. Rats have extensive knowledge of their surroundings and will treat anything new with extreme caution. They will avoid objects that they are unfamiliar with and it may take several days, even weeks before they will interact with new traps or bait sources.
In some circumstances, a rat may never even enter a new container and feed off of the bait left. This is why DIY rat control is rather controversial as you could end up worsening neophobia rather than encouraging them to take the bait. Neophobia can significantly impact the progress of a rodenticide programme and is always best left to a pest professional.
As mentioned, you are very unlikely to see a live physical rat in your home/premises so it is imperative that you recognise the signs of their presence. You should look out for the following indicators to help you determine if you might have a rat infestation:
Rats produce stale odours that can be quite strong, especially when infestations have been long-standing or undisturbed.
Rats defecate black spindle shaped droppings that resemble grains of rice. Each rat produces roughly 40 droppings per day and can be found in an area that they have visited.
If the droppings are soft and shiny, this could indicate that they are fresh. In contrast, if they are hard and dull, this suggests that the droppings are old.
Norway rats produce roughly 15ml of strong smelling urine per day. The excretion of urine is linked to territory marking and communication, and is often consciously left in a particular place.
Rats follow the same routes when travelling and this results in 'runs' leading upto the entry point/s in your property. Look out for dents/depressions in grassed areas as well as well-worn pathways of earth. Indoor runs are easier to spot as the surfaces will have a "cleaned" like appearance due to the removal of dust on the rat's travels.
Footprints are easily seen in muddy or dusty areas and their presence is a strong sign that you could have an infestation. You might also spot long, thin marks that are often the result of a tail being dragged or rested.
As rats use consistent routes, dark coloured smears gradually form where the rodent brushes against a surface. Grease and dirt from their fur rubs off and are often found around entrance/exit points.
Rats continuously need to gnaw to prevent their teeth from over-growing and as a result of this, they will chew on a wide range of materials. You might spot damaged plugs or exposed wires, or possibly ripped food packets. If you come across any damage to electrical items, you should act immediately as they pose a major fire risk.
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After you have ascertained that you could possibly need rat pest control, you should contact a professional rat exterminator such as Pestcure Limited to successfully control the infestation. Many people think that rat control simply consists of laying poison and traps, but the reality is very different.
Time must be spent carrying out an initial survey as the information collected is the driving force of the control operation.
The initial survey stage incorporates targeted objectives to identify:
1) Species causing the problem?
2) Extent of the infestation? Horizontally and vertically?
3) Extent of infestation? Light, moderate or heavy?
4) Main areas of activity and potential baiting points?
5) Food source?
7) Water source?
8) History of infestation?
9) Source of infestation?
11) Non-target hazards such as children, pets and wildlife?
12) Proofing defects?
13) Hygiene defects?
Your pest control technician is unlikely to learn all there is to know about the infestation on the first visit. Subsequent visits to the property are essential as they are used as "secondary surveys" that help to build up a complete picture of the extent of the problem.
If you attempt to tackle the problem yourself, the casual unplanned use of control techniques is unlikely to provide effective control and you could essentially worsen the situation.
Prevention is the most effective thing you can do when it comes to controlling rats. Like humans, rodents need food and shelter and by removing these, you can make your environment less susceptible to infestation.
When it comes to prevention, the first aspect you should address is hygiene. It is essential that any sources of "free food" are eliminated from your environment and this can be achieved through regular rubbish removal and a high standard of cleanliness. In particular, you should ensure that you do the following:
1) Keep food in sealed containers and only in the kitchen. If dirty used dishes/food are left in other areas of the house, rats may thrive off the left overs. This includes rinsing cans and bottles before putting them in the bin as the residue left in them could attract rodents.
2) Vacuum/sweep your kitchen at night (to collect any excess crumbs from the day) as being nocturnal creatures, rats tend to come out at night to forage for food.
3) Keep your home as tidy as possible and extend this to all outdoor areas as clutter provides an ideal harbourage for rats. Garages are also particularly prone, so you should ensure that any potential nesting materials such as cardboard and paper are also removed.
Once you have adequate hygiene measures in place, the next step is to look at proofing your property. Proofing involves the introduction of barriers into potential entry points and essentially blocks rodents from accessing your property.
Rats will find their way into buildings through cracks/holes in walls, doors and crevices. The best way to stop them coming in is to seal/cover these openings. You can use clear caulk which is quite effective if applied in the correct areas, as well as copper mesh and steel wool which is also handy for filling holes.
Both high hygiene standards and proofing combined will certainly make your home less inviting to pests and will reduce your chances of becoming infested. Remember, rats need food, shelter and water and by removing these vital survival essentials, you can protect your home from a pest invasion.
Amazing service, sorted a reoccurring flea infestation with ease! 10/10 would definitely recommend and use again (although hopefully I won't have to haha!) Thanks pestcure!
Pestcure helped us with removing squirrels from our loft - they were extremely professional and took great care with the work. I highly recommend them.
I called in regards to a wasp nest and it was gone within a couple of days. Great service, very professional and friendly. Highly recommended! Thanks again!
This company came out same day and discovered a rat nest at my house! The member of staff was very nice man and took his time to explain everything professional service. I was happy with price as it was also 3 visits lots of dead ones on 2nd visit. Great job thank you very much
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The risk of a fire isn't the only health issue that rats pose. Another major risk to humans is the spread of a wide range of pathogenic diseases. Historically, the transmission of diseases from rats to humans has been of significance to historians. Diseases continue to have an impact throughout the world including the UK, with some of the most common being:
1) Weil's disease (leptospirosis)
Weil's disease is caused by the bacterium Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae and has been found in the kidneys of upto 50% if rats. It is usually transmitted to humans via contacted with infected rat urine through cuts/abrasions or through the membrane of the nose and mouth.
The disease can range in severity from mild flu-like symptoms to renal failure and even death, and protection is best achieved through effective hand-washing and the wearing of protective personal clothing such as gloves.
Salmonellosis is caused by a bacteria known as salmonella. Infection in humans mostly occurs from the contamination of food and drink via infected rodent excreta and is therefore a type of food poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diahorrea and stomach cramps accompanied by a headache and fever.
3) Lyme disease:
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread to humans by infected ticks. Ticks feed on the blood of potentially infected mammals such as rats and then transmit it to subsequent hosts including humans.
The most common sign of Lyme disease is pink circular rash at the source of the bite, three to thirty days after being bitten. Other signs include flu-like symptoms, headaches and musle or joint pain. If left untreated, more serious symptoms may develop such as swelling of the joints and neurological symptoms such as the paralysis of the facial muscles.
Getting rid of rats requires patience and expertise; we don't recommend tackling an infestation by yourself. Prevention is key, but if it's too late, you can rely on Pestcure Limited.
We have rat control technicians available near you and all of our technicians are BPCA level 2 (British Pest Control Association) certified so you can be confident that we possess the skills needed to control your rat problem.
We are also members of the British Pest Control Association, our details can be viewed if you click here.
Remember, if you call in a company that is not competent or experienced, you actually risk enhancing a rat's neophobic instinct thus worsening your situation.