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The rat population surged by 25 percent last year as rats moved from city centres to residential areas. Residents in inner city areas have reported more sightings of rats as city centres remain more empty due to Covid restrictions and working from home. Pest control workers have said their workloads have increased in most areas in the UK.
Reports of rats being seen in open public areas during lockdown have become more common as they try and find food and shelter.
In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, the rat population stood at 120 million.
Last year, when the pandemic began and the population spent more time at home, the rat population increased to 150 million.
The spiralling rat population isn’t the only issue pest controllers are facing.
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Traditional pest control methods are becoming ineffective as the 2019-20 Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use survey of rats found.
Reportedly, 74 percent of rats in the UK carried a resistance gene to popular rodenticides.
Furthermore, in some locations in the UK, 20 percent have two different genes, making them super resistant.
Jenny Rathbone of Pest Controller Pest.co.uk said lockdown is presenting a challenge for pest controllers, especially where there have been financial cuts.
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Ms Rathbone also said social distancing is “hampering” local authorities’ abilities to tackle rats.
She added: “This is not only a funding issue – the population of rats is growing, and the ability to control them with traditional means is decreasing as 74 percent of UK rats have been shown to carry immunity to popular poisons.”
Bridgend in Wales is just one area that has been impacted by a sudden surge in rats.
Councillor Nicole Burnett, a cabinet member for social services and early help reported that there has been an increase in rats in residential areas.
She added: “Particularly residential areas close to town centres.”
Since 2016, they have allegedly seen an increase of 47 percent in the reports of rat problems since 2016.
Cardiff is also facing a similar rat problem with Gill Lewis from Caerphilly County Borough Council suggesting that there has been a “significant increase” in pest control requests since March 2020.
Ms Lewis said this is because more people are spending time at home.
Ms Rathbone said: “The big problem we face is that residents of more deprived inner-city areas tend to use Local Authority services to treat rodent problems, and it’s these areas rats are moving to during lockdown – any cuts to services will end up impacting the poorest the hardest – and we all know cuts are coming.”
She added: “2021 could be interesting. The longer the lockdown continues, the higher the risk that rats get a real foothold that will be hard to control come summer.”
To avoid being infested with rats, Pest.co.uk is advising those living in inner city urban areas to take action.
Block up holes
Any gaps in brickwork, gaps under shed doors or holes in external walls should all be filled in.
Holes and gaps in cellars and antics should also be filled to avoid rats.
Clear your cupboards
Unused cupboards that have bags, clothes or anything else in them should be cleaned out.
Secure food sources
Try not to leave food out or containers with food in open.
Worktops and floors should also be cleaned of crumbs and food remnants.
The most important thing is to be proactive and leave rat traps out so you can pre-empt any future infestations.
Pest.co.uk recommends putting rat poison in traps rather than food scraps.
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