In what has to be the wettest drought in history, caravan owners along with rats have found themselves washed out of their homes. The dry winter months (remember those?) enabled rats to dig in deep but now the rivers have risen to record levels, flushing rats from their riverside residences.
But worse than an invading army of hungry, wet rats are the diseases their nests are infested with. Rats carry Weil’s Disease in their urine and there is an enhanced risk where flash floods have washed out burrows. Although Weil’s Diease is very rare in the UK, British Gold Olympic Medalist Andy Holmes sadly died of the illness in 2010.
Today the Environment Agency announced 41 flood alerts across the UK meaning that more rats may be homeless and looking for somewhere to live – don’t let it be your home.
Brown rats need water to survive and are by nature burrowers. Rats will build nests pretty much anywhere but are fond of the clumps of vegetation found along riverbank or cluttered places such as a basement or storeroom. Rats are capable of digging under homes or may gain access via broken pipework. Excellent swimmers, rats can enter via a sewer or even the toilet (another reason to keep the lid down).
Rats have a good sense of balance which enables them to run along narrow ledges and utility cables. Rats like to use regular paths or runways along walls and although naturally weary of new objects they will travel several hundred feet to obtain food or shelter. Rats can chew through anything softer than their teeth which includes wood, concrete or even lead pipes.
Black rats are excellent climbers but wisely in these times of heavy rain and burst banks they don’t burrow but are roof dwellers. Their sharp claws also allow them to climb pipes and rough walls. If a homeless rat can find access to food and shelter it will move in. Here are some rat control tips to prevent that from happening.
- Take a look at your property. Are there any access points such as broken pipework or bricks? Gas entry pipes behind stoves can sometimes enable rats access. Remember that young rats can get through holes of less than 1cm.
- Plug all possible entry points with wire wool or wire mesh no greater than 1/4 inch and seal with expandable foam.
- Don’t attract rats with food – store food in strong air tight plastic or metal containers and regularly clean under cookers and fridges.
- Ensure household refuse is kept in closed bins. Do not put meat into compost heaps and use squirrel-proof bird feeders.