Lockdown (part. 2) may once again see the closure of businesses and cut backs to council services. But what have we learnt from the first round, and with that knowledge what should we be doing to protect our properties from rats and mice?
During the last period of lockdown unused buildings and yards, empty streets and a reduction in council services made rodents a regular sight across the UK. And now, as we enter Autumn, the usual upward seasonal trends in rat and mouse activity may exacerbate the problem as large numbers of rodents seek out our properties looking for food and shelter.
Following lockdown 51% of pest professionals polled by BPCA (British Pest Control Association) reported an increase in rat activity across the UK, while 41% reported an increase in mouse activity during the timeline of restrictions.
Why? During lockdown many food businesses such as restaurants, cafés and production facilities reduced their services or shut down, cutting off the regular food supplies relied on by local rat populations. This led to behaviour consistent with starvation, evidenced by rats forced by hunger into new territories and unusual feeding habits. There was a particularly marked increase in daytime sightings as the large hungry population was forced to feed at less favourable times.
In addition, as patterns for bin collections altered, household waste and recycling centres closed, public litter bin emptying decreased and street cleaning reduced we added fuel to the fire by accumulating rubbish with food value around our properties.
Compost heaps, outbuildings, log piles, bird feeders and domestic poultry houses in residential areas have subsequently become a primary food source and places of harbourage. If you have any one of these you may need to consider altering their management or putting pest control in place.
Rats in the garden are one thing but as the temperature drops and natural food sources become limited rodents will also look to find their way into our properties. But what can you do?
How to protect your Buildings
Have a thorough walkaround of your property. The junction between the ground and wall is the main area to focus on. Remove all excess vegetation and loose materials to prevent these areas being utilised as easy ‘corridors’ for rodent travel and to expose potential weaknesses rats may use to gain entry. Remember, an adult rat can fit through a hole equal to a 50p piece.
Look around and check the base region of the walls for holes and gaps, particularly where old pipework may have been situated previously and also by existing gutters.
Check the drain covers and top of the gully for cracks, holes and weaknesses that the rats may exploit.
Check the condition of air bricks and vents. Rats will constantly look to find these types of weaknesses.
Block any holes found with cement and cover vents etc with galvanised or stainless-steel mesh.
How to protect your Garden and outside Areas
Be compost aware. Compost heaps are one of the most common reasons homeowners have rats in the garden. Keep compost areas sealed and placed away from your property. Compost heaps are absolute rodent magnets!
Make sure your bins are in good condition. Check the lids seal well. Really well. Even small gaps can be exploited by a range of pest species. Mice can squeeze through a hole as wide as a pencil.
Stop feeding the birds. Or buy a feeder that catches dropped seeds rather than letting them drop onto the floor attracting and feeding the rats.
Remove heaps of stone or timber adjacent to the property which may provide harbourage.
Rake up and remove fallen fruit. If you’re lucky enough to have fruit trees in the garden ensure fallen fruit is collected quickly. Place waste fruit in compostable bags and straight into the green bin.
Get broken bins replaced. If your bins are damaged or broken, check with your local authority for services offered during lockdown and where possible ask for a replacement.
Move poultry (i.e. chickens) away from your property or consider removing them completely if necessary. Along with compost heaps and bird feeders keeping poultry is the most common cause of a rat issue in gardens and small holdings.
Don’t chuck loose food into your wheelie bin. Always place food waste into compostable liners, plastic bags or refuse sacks before you put it in the bin. This will limit its availability as a food source and help contain any attractive aromas.
Please feel free to phone or email to discuss your issue. We’re set up to conduct our work quickly and safely.
And please look after yourselves this Autumn and Winter…
The LANDGUARD Team
Office – 0113 2037427 or 01423 209030
24/7 – 07970 902 194