Rodent problems after flooding

After the exceptionally wet weather recently, the ground is saturated with water running off fields and hillsides on to roads and paths. As temperatures drop below zero, this water is likely to freeze. In these conditions of flooding and bitterly cold temperatures you are likely to see more rodents. Even as flood water recede, the water table remains high and rats that have been flooded out of their burrows will be on the look out for a new source of food and shelter.

Rats are strong swimmers and can swim great distances in search of a new home. They can use damaged pipework, plumbing or cracks in masonry to enter properties. As they can swim through the water in a u-bend, finding their way up toilets presents very little problem to them. They will often make their way into loft or attic areas to establish a new nest.

During flood conditions rats are more likely to spread disease. David Cross, head of technical training academy at Rentokil warns: "Rats carry a particular health risk in flooded areas, as their urine contains leptospires which survive outside the rats body for much longer periods in extreme wet weather."

Rat Control

The leptospires within the rats’ urine can cause Leptospirosis (commonly known as Weil’s disease).  Hantavirus is another pathogen that can be transmitted from rats and mice to people via food and water contaminated by rodent urine and excrement. It is always advisable when dealing with flood water, clearing up after flooding or even just in contact with waterlogged ground where rats may have been active, should take a few precautionary steps:

  • Cover any cuts or grazes with waterproof plasters
  • Wear waterproof clothing, especially waterproof gloves
  • Try to avoid swallowing any contaminated water
  • Wash hands thoroughly before eating, drinking or smoking

When repairing your home from flood damage, try to rodent proof it at the same time. Seal exterior holes and gaps with wire wool or caulk, add bristle strips to doors, secure galvanised mesh over air bricks and fix any broken pipework that could allow rat’s easy access to your property.