How can I prevent rats?

Rats are not a welcome sight in any home or business. They are a pest that you want to avoid at all costs. Property owners have a legal obligation under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act (1949) to prevent and remove them.

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The dangers

Rats can cause serious structural damage to your property. This is especially true when it comes to wiring, with insurers estimating that 25 per cent of wiring-related fires are caused by rodents They can also cause floods by gnawing through pipes and are known to carry several nasty diseases, including leptospirosis, salmonella and listeria, passing these diseases on to humans through their urine. Like rats, evidence from pigeon control in London shows that prevention is imperative for reducing the risk of disease.

Where do they live?

Rats live under your floorboards, in wall cavities or in your roof space, where they will be causing damage. They live under garden sheds or in overgrown areas. They only need 15mm to gain entry to any structure, require water and food to survive, and will produce between 3 and 12 litters a year.

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Deterring rats

There are several steps you can take to prevent rats. The first is to make sure you rat-proof your home. They can fit into any gaps you may have around the exterior of your home, so make sure you fit strips to the top and bottom of doors. They have also been known to use cat flaps. Check that you have no gapping in roof tiles or guttering that they might use to access your roof space. They can also access your property through gaps in pipes, so check these regularly.

As with infestations such as pigeons, which can be dealt with by specialists such as, removal of all food is one of the best ways to deter rats. Ensure that your exterior bin has a tight-fitting lid and that any bags have been properly sealed. Check that your compost heap is not attracting them and keep any bird feed in feeders. Store all food carefully inside your home.

They may be looking for nesting sites, so make sure that you tidy up all areas outside by clearing away any debris or garden waste. Check any drain lids are well-fitting.

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