How do I know I have a rat problem?
You may see rats, hear them, smell their urine, or suffer the consequences of their damage by seeing droppings or gnawing. Luckily most rat problems are outside and are usually caused by a food source, rats using an area for cover or a water source or possibly a combination of all three.
In domestic gardens bird feeding, compost heaps and animal droppings are the main causes. You may see rats during daylight hours but they prefer to operate at night. Runs are seen by lack of vegetation, smear marks, footprints and packed down earth. Rats lie in burrows dug into the earth and can cause damage by collecting nesting materials, soiling food with urine, excreta and hairs. The burrows can resemble small rabbit holes. They may dig the burrows in earth or in compost heaps but they are adaptable and make use of areas under sheds or inside buildings. Lofts may be used as resting places, kitchens as a food source or both. Rats are extremely intelligent, adapting to their surroundings. This is what makes them one of the most successful animals on the planet and makes controlling rats a difficult task. If rats are inside the building you may hear them in wall cavities or roof spaces. You may see their droppings or smell the urine.
Why should rats be treated?
Landowners have a legal obligation to treat rats. They carry diseases, they can start fires & cause other damage by chewing through cables, water pipes etc, an infestation will breed and spread rapidly.
Preparation Prior to Treatment
Keep a record of where you see rats, ask your neighbours if they have them. Leave any droppings or damage for me to look at. If you are feeding birds then stop. If you have a compost heap then stop putting food on it. Identifying & dealing with the food source is the most important factor in dealing with a rat infestation.
It can take up to 10 days before the rats start feeding on the bait as they are suspicious of new objects. Rat infestations are normally dealt with a cereal based poison bait containing an anticoagulant poison. This poison usually requires that the rats feed several times before dying or if they consume enough poison to give them a lethal dose on their first feed they will not suffer any ill effects until some time after feeding. This ensures that they do not become suspicious and associate the bait with illness or death and allowing time for all the rats in the colony time to take a fatal dose. ‘complete kill’ takes place to all the rats in the colony.
What do I do afterwards?
If rats are getting into a building it is essential that the entry points are located and filled (you may need a builder for this) or the problem will repeat in the future. If you do not wish rats to return then you must address the reasons as to why you had rats in the first place. Rats need three things in life to thrive: food, water and cover. Gardens will often include all three and any attempt to eliminate infestations and keep from being re infested will fail unless these three problems are addressed. The main culprit is bird feeding as this supplies rats with a high energy food at regular intervals in a fixed location. Birds are messy feeders and small amounts of nuts pecked off a feeder will support a population of rats. Compost heaps often provide a warm place to live in the winter with a regular supply of food if used at regular intervals.
Rats are also attracted to the smell of rubbish (bins) and any other animals. This includes predator animals such as dogs. The reason for this is that in the wild rats would eat left over food & droppings from wolves, foxes & other animals. The same applies to chickens, rabbits & guinea pigs. So if you have pets clear up droppings, check that their food is stored in a rat proof container, that litter & droppings are not put on compost heaps & that hutches & runs are rat proof.
I guarantee to eliminate the infestation providing any hygiene and/or proofing advice given is adhered to.
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