It is vital that rats are kept under control in the interest of public health and for the benefit of protecting wildlife. Rats will eat almost anything and carry diseases such as Leptospirosis, Weils disease, Hanta Virus and others.
Most of our work is connected to people over-feeding the birds in an area: rats will travel around a mile looking for food. Once a reliable source is found the rat will want to be as close as possible to it, provided there is adequate harbourage and water. They will then breed and keep multiplying to take advantage of the available food supply.
Legislation states that we should only be baiting where and when rats are present and after any food supplies have been removed, picking up the bait once the rats are under control and when only mice or any other non-target species are present (to help prevent secondary poisoning).
Currently there is a move to reduce the amount of poison being used to control rats and mice. Traps are not always the best option as they only catch one or two rats. The rest of the colony see this happen and then keep away from traps. This is learned behaviour which is then passed down to their offspring.
Guide to bird feeding and preventing rats
- If you feed garden birds, do not do this to excess, and use a bird table or feeder basket keeping them off the floor and away from property, controlling spillage and remove discarded or uneaten food – often birds prefer one of the seeds in a mix and will drop others.
- Historically pest technicians, when treating rats, have had a greater success when high energy bird food such as fats and peanuts are removed and would recommend not using them.
- When using bird tables, only put a small amount of food out, ideally in the morning and bring it in at midday. The birds will peck around and clear up any waste before the rats come along at night. This will ensure that the birds are less reliant on the same feeder all the time in case the householder is suddenly unable to feed the birds (this can cause bird fatalities). The feeders will be more hygienic too and less likely to spread disease around the bird population. This should help to stop a rat infestation from becoming established, and will certainly reduce the problems they cause.
Other ways to prevent rats
- Eliminate any harbourage points such as sealing gaps around pipes and under sheds; rats only need a gap of 15mm to gain entry.
- Remove potential nesting sites by keeping yards and gardens clean and tidy, by cutting back overgrown areas and clearing any piles of wood/debris.
- Ensure that drain inspection covers/pipes are in a good state of repair.
- Cover any household waste where rats can get access to it, close dustbin lids and cover compost heaps.
- Removing food supply is paramount.
Requesting a treatment
Request advice or treatment by visiting pests and nuisance.