One of the UK’s most common pests is the rat, specifically the Norwegian or brown rat species (Rattus norvegicus). Since the Covid 19 Pandemic we has seen a huge increase in Rat infestations across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey, and we aren't alone! All Pest Control company's are reporting large increases in rat infestations all over the UK.
Rats are very resourceful and will quickly adapt to their surroundings, Rats have an excellent sense of smell, they are also great at climbing, swimming, burrowing, jumping and they can even detect tiny changes in heat with their whiskers! With these skills rats are often able to find their way into our homes or places of work. In winter when food is scarce, the ground may be frozen and everywhere is cold and damp, rats will be on the look out for any warm dry harbourage near food. If you have gaps in your house allowing warm air to vent, rats and mice will detect this and try to gain access.
In ideal conditions rat populations can explode in a matter of weeks which can lead to serious damage to your home, property, stored belongings or even your health.
If you discover a rat nest or suspect you may have a rat infestation near your property, it should be taken seriously, and measures should be put in place quickly to protect your property and health. If you have noticed rats at a neighbour’s property and you're wondering how to resolve the issue, we have a guide below.
What should I do if my neighbour has rats?
This depends if your own your own home or if you rent the property as a tenant. If you own your property then you will be required to act on the infestation following the tips below. If your are a tenant in a rental property as part of the common law, landlords are responsible for removing a pest infestation within their property. Even if the pests are coming from a neighbouring house, since that adversely affects the rental property and presents a serious risk to the tenants, the landlord is the one, who should try to deal with the rat infestation. If the rat infestation is being cause my a tenant due to untidy house keeping, untidy garden or the like then it will most likely be the tenants responsibility to deal with the rat issues and clear up any mess deemed to be causing the rat infestation. If rats are gaining access to a rental property through a property defect or due to bad maintenance from the landlord this should be down to the landlord t resolve.
So, our advice is:
Have a polite conversation with your neighbour. You may have noticed rats in your neighbour's garden, your neighbour’s house or you may have only seen signs of the rats presence in the form of rat runs, burrows or droppings. However that doesn’t mean your neighbour is even aware of the rat issue yet. Your first step should always be to talk to your neighbour, and politely inform them of what you've seen our found. Try to to point blame straight away and try if possible to present. Videoing the rats coming through from their garden into yours or pictures of burrows from under the fence, just don't video or take pictures of their property or garden.
Rat proof any possible entrance points. While waiting for your neighbour to take action, proof any potential entry points on your property. You can try to block runs under fences to make it more difficult for the rats to navigate through the gardens, but you will not rat proof your garden no matter how hard you try. Removing food or water sources from your garden will be essential!
Hire a local qualified pest control company. In case, there is still a lack of action on your neighbour’s part, call out a local qualified pest control company, they will be able to survey the site, advise you on what actions you can take to prevent rats from returning and help build a case in writing against the neighbor casing the rat issue.
Inform your local authority’s environmental health department. If the problem persists and you feel that the rat infestation poses a risk to human or animal health, contact your local council environmental health department. They will arrange an inspection and decide on how to proceed. This should be your last resort as the environmental health officers are massively over stretched with their current workload inspecting food preparation sites and we find they don't like responding to domestic homes. However if all other options have been exhausted, they should be contacted. If the rats from your neighbour's property are causing damage to your property and they are refusing to deal with the infestation, the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 is there specifically for this purpose.
Why must rats be controlled?
The hazards associated with a rat infestation are plentiful and very high risk of transmission to humans or our pets. Some of the diseases known to be transmitted by rats can have serious consequences on human health, with that in mind, it is important to mention that every property owner has the legal responsibility to keep their home free of pests.
To give you more insight on why rats must be controlled, we’ve gathered below the main types of damage rats can inflict on people and their property:
Rats transmit dangerous diseases, such as Salmonella (food poisoning) and Weil’s disease, which is a serious infection and can even be fatal for humans.
They feed on human food sources and can contaminate food, water and cooking surfaces.
Rodents inflict serious property damage by scratching or gnawing on furniture, water pipes and electrical cables (the latter may even cause an electrical fire hazard).
Their gnawing habits have been known to disturb important utility services, like power supplies, or affect traffic light systems.
Although the list doesn’t fully cover the possible consequences of a rat infestation, we hope we have given you a good enough reason to act immediately when you notice the very first signs of the rodents, even if the pesky rats are in the neighbour's garden.
What attracts rats to your house
It’s always better, if possible, to take preventative measures in advance to keep rats away, rather than trying to fight an infestation when it is already ongoing. That is why to prevent rats from coming near your garden and house, you need to know the key factors that invite rodents to a property.
Here is what attracts rats to your house:
Food: Since rats are omnivores, they can become attracted by various kinds of food sources, left out in the open, or such that are simply easily accessible.
Water: Any form of water supply, such as leaky pipes, hoses and taps, or the presence of birdbaths and pet bowls, will be a convenient way for a rodent to quench its thirst.
Shelter and warmth: The warmth and comfort of houses can look pretty attractive to rats in their search for a warm and safe place to nest, breed and hide from other animals.
Nesting materials: Rat nests can consist of clutter, like shredded paper, dried plants, cardboard and other soft materials.
Vegetation: Fruit trees in your garden, houseplants, seeds and other vegetation can serve not only as rats’ food but also as nesting material or an easy path to your roof.
Waste: Rats really do eat everything, even food digested by other animals. So, if you have pets or open trash cans, your house has a higher chance of becoming a rat’s target.
Entry points: If your fence or house has plenty of open access points, then you are not making it very difficult for vermin, like rats, to enter your property.
Now, when you know what attracts rodents, you should take measures to proof your property appropriately against troublesome vermin. However, if you have already noticed signs of a rat infestation on your neighbour’s property, you will probably need to take more serious actions to handle the situation.
How to keep rats away
Whether you’ve decided on contacting your local authorities or directly calling a pest control company, you can still try implementing some measures to make your home less attractive to rodents for the time being.
Once you know the best way to get rid of rats and what things attract the vermin to a house, you can easily take appropriate actions and ensure that there is nothing that entices the rodents into your garden. This will immediately reduce the risk of having your neighbour’s rats come to your house.
Here are some tips on how to make your home rat-proofed:
Eliminate potential food and water sources: Don’t store food on your kitchen counter. Stop feeding birds, or at least reduce the husk food, which leaves residue. Eliminate water sources, such as pet bowls and birdbaths. Don’t leave pet food outside or remove and wash the bowl once your pet has finished eating.
Keep your garden clutter-free: Cut your grass regularly and dispose of fallen leaves and fruit as soon as possible. Keep your firewood logs above ground level and as far away from the property as possible. Clear your gutters out regularly.
For rat infestation eradication in Southern UK (Berkshire - Hampshire - Surrey - Oxfordshire - Buckinghamshire or Wiltshire) please visit DKG Pest Control LTD