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Pest Control - Rats

Note: Adur & Worthing Councils do not offer a service to deal with rats, this page is to offer advice and information only. Please see our pest control homepage for how to request a pest control service.

Are they a health risk and what problems do they cause?

Rats are public enemy number one.

Rats in your home can spread disease.

They will also damage your property with their constant gnawing, attack your food and contaminate it with their hairs, urine and droppings. They could also chew their way through electrical cables presenting a potential fire risk.

Even in the garden they are putting you, your family and pets at risk by contaminating garden ponds and bird baths.

They will help themselves to fish food and other pet foods that may be stored in sheds or garage and sometimes nesting there.

They will also get into compost bins for feeding and nesting purposes and have been known to attack family pets.

Rats can carry leptospirosis (or Weil's disease) which, although rare in the UK, can be transmitted to humans from infected animal urine usually via contaminated water (eg from rivers, streams or drains, etc). For more information see:

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Do rats hibernate?

Rats don't hibernate they are active all year round. 

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Lifecycle

The common rat is sexually mature at 8 to 12 weeks, the gestation period is approximately three weeks and the average size litter under favourable conditions will be about seven and they are weaned in 3 to 4 weeks.

Breeding usually slows down during the winter months unless they find a nice kind soul who will unwittingly invite them into their home offering them the ideal environment in which to raise their young.

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What can you do to deter/ prevent rats?

Why wait until you have an infestation of this disease carrying rodent before taking action?

When it comes to rats, prevention really is better than cure.

There are many things that you can do to reduce the risk of infestation:

The first step is to walk all round the outside of your home checking for any possible points where rats could gain access. Look for broken air-bricks, any holes left in the exterior wall where a waste pipe has been removed, any open brickwork where building work is in progress, any large gaps at base of doors etc, all such gaps should be sealed to deny rats access.

Don't confine your inspection to ground level, because rats will use to full advantage trees, ivy and other plants that are near or directly against a building and possibly gain entry to upper areas including the loft.

When your inspection to the perimeter of the building is finished, you should then check the garden area. Ideally the garden shed should be on a solid concrete base and sited at least half a meter away from the fence and have small gauge wire mesh fitted all round the bottom to prevent rats getting underneath.

The gap between the fence and shed should be kept clear to facilitate the removal of leaves and rubbish to prevent rats nesting.

Composting should be carried out in purpose made bins and placed on heavy gauge mesh to reduce the risk of rats gaining access.

All garden waste that is not for composting should not left in the garden but be taken as soon as possible to the tip (household waste recycling site).

If you feed the birds, this should be on a suitable size bird table with a raised edge to prevent food falling onto the ground. Bird feeding is best done in the morning, as this is the most beneficial time for them, any bird feed remaining by mid afternoon should be removed and never left out over night otherwise you could be treating rats to a slap up meal.

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Control methods

They are particularly difficult to control because of the rate at which they breed and are able to colonise new areas.

By ensuring that your premises are in good repair and that no food is left around the house or garden you will prevent rats from being encouraged onto your property.

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