The brown or common rat has been in the UK since the early eighteenth century, widely believed to have been introduced from Russia via ships. The brown rat is not to be confused with the black rat or ship rats which were believed to have returned with crusaders from south-east Asia. The black rat was responsible for the outbreaks of plague that killed so many people during the mid 1600's. The black rat is now mainly found in port areas although occasionally found in inland towns that are connected to ports via canals.
The common rat makes its home living near water, rivers, streams, ditches and sewers. Open water posses no challenge to them either as they are good swimmers, able to dive and remain submerged for quite some time. The reproductive properties of the rat are truly astonishing! They are sexually mature from about 3 months of age, with a gestation period of 24-28 days producing litters of 8 or more. They breed approximately 15 times a year and can produce as many as 2000 descendants if left uncontrolled.
Why control rats?
Rats can be a persistent, destructive, stubborn nuisance and have been known to chew though metal to gain access to a property. They can cause huge damage to crops and properties as well as carrying deadly diseases to humans e.g. Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis. Rats are incontinent of both urine and faeces defecating wherever they go greatly increasing the risk of disease transmission.
As a rural pest control specialist based in Herefordshire I am frequently called for rat control, either with the use of poison or as a rat catcher. Rats can be a real nuisance to eliminate, they are ingenious and suspicious. Rats are neophobic which means they have a tendency to avoid unfamiliar objects. By far the most effective method of controlling rats is the use of anti coagulant based baits, placed in purpose built bait stations or spooned down rat holes to prevent accidental poisoning of other animals in the area. We are able to offer this service to reduce an infestation or as a contract to prevent the build up of numbers. Although the use of anti coagulant baits is extremely effective, it also carries a risk of secondary poisoning to birds such as the barn owl. In areas that have these magnificent animals I prefer to utilise MK4 Fenn traps, placed in purpose built tunnels. The use of tunnels prevents non target species gaining access to the trap and the design of the trap ensures a clean instant kill. Although a more costly and time consuming option to baiting due to the added labour, the use of traps is more environmentally friendly.