The Rats of Reykjavik

Reykjavik was infested with rats in 1946Since its beginnings in 1927 Rentokil has treated many rat infestations around the globe including playing the role of the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. However few rat infestations have been so severe as the rodent invasion of Reykjavik in Spring 1946.

During the war years Iceland had been an Allied base, with many navy ships visiting Reykjavik. Along with the men and goods,  stowaway rats scurried into the harbour, seeking food and shelter first in the docks, then as the population grew they scampered into the city. The rat population boomed. Of 4858 properties, 3905 were infested with brown rats. The docks were teaming with black rats. The Major of Reykjavik telephoned Rentokil.

A team of expert Rentokil rat catchers, including Karl Anker-Petersen, who established British Ratin in 1927 were dispatched at once to the land of fire and ice. Crates of rat poison were sent by sea, along with three vehicles. Once the Rentokil rat catchers settled in their Army base they recruited 30 Icelanders, including five girls, to help with the laying of baits and rodent proofing houses.

Black ratWithin a few weeks dead rats were counted in their thousands. After three treatments 87 percent of all properties were declared free of rats. The Rentokil rat catchers flew back to London and on the 5th November 1946 the Mayor of Reykjavik wrote to Rentokil with the news that the rat infestation had been cleared.

Meanwhile post-blitz London was suffering a black rat infestation which was migrating westwards toward Rentokil’s head office in West London. Had the rats broken into the Ratin storeroom that would have made the rat catchers job easy.

Today our technicians still travel the globe, and there are opportunities for staff to travel and visit new places such as Libya or fight the mouse plague in Australia. We have offices in 53 countries and have just made an exciting new acquisition in Mexico. Speedy Gonzales, the fastest mouse in all of Mexico better watch out because Rentokil are coming!

Just like in Reykjavik rats will be seeking food and shelter this winter. The easiest way to deal with a rat infestation is to stop it in its tracks. Shore up any holes or damaged pipework with wire wool and a foam sealant and be on the alert for these signs:

Signs of a Rat Infestation

A rat is naturally a nocturnal animal, so if you believe you may have a rat infestation, the classic signs to look out for are:

  • Rat droppings (sausage shaped approx. 1 -2 cm long).
  • Rat smears – grease marks from the body of a rat as it repeatedly brushes up against objects.
  • Nibbled goods.
  • Rat nesting materials — shredded insulation, cardboard, wood, plastics etc.
  • Distinctive smell – rats leave behind an ammonia-like smell, that is particularly strong in enclosed areas.

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