The Brown Rat – A Growing Problem

Brown rats are the scourge of many farms, businesses and homes. They destroy property and carry diseases, making them one of the most dangerous of modern-day pests.

Essex and Suffolk Pest Solutions are specialists in rodent control in Clacton, Colchester, Felixstowe, Ipswich, and other locations across both counties. Here we look at why the population of the brown rat has continued to rise – and the steps we can take to keep their numbers under control.

Where Did They Come From?

The brown rat is believed to have originated in Asia, in what is now northern China and Mongolia. It rapidly colonised Europe in the early 18th century, and it is thought to have been spread by maritime trade. The rodent set up home on board ships, and then made its way ashore once the vessel had docked.

Its scientific name is rattus norvegicus, or Norway rat, even though it has nothing to do with the country. It is also known as the common, Hanover, sewer or wharf rat.

The Perfect Predator

Brown rats are expert jumpers, climbers and swimmers. This means they are at home in all habitats, including dark, damp sewers and rubbish dumps, except the highest of mountain ranges. They also breed extremely rapidly.

They can eat almost anything that humans can, which means they are more than happy to feed off leftovers in the bin. Once they become established, the numbers of other rodent, marine and land bird species tends to fall. This was discovered by Swiss researchers, who told the journal Conservation Biology that brown rats were among the most invasive mammals in Europe, and they had the biggest ecological and economic impact.

A Rising Population

The secret of the brown rat’s success lies in its opportunistic way of life and extraordinary ability to reproduce, with one pair multiplying to 200 in just one year. There are now believed to be more than 15million brown rats across the UK.

There is also evidence to suggest that the warm summers, like the one we have just enjoyed, increased the rat population. Call-outs to deal with this type of rodent problem stayed steady over the summer months, which is unusual, as typically rats spend the summer outdoors. The British Pest Control Association think rodents have not needed to move far because the hot weather led to a plentiful supply of fruit.

There is also evidence to suggest that rats are becoming more resistant to the rodenticides typically used to eradicate them, and that they are benefiting from an increase in

Health Hazards

Brown rats can cause a great deal of physical damage to homes and businesses, including farms, warehouses and companies operating in port areas. They chew through woodwork and electrical wiring, and even puncture gas pipes, which leads to an increased risk of fire.

These rats can also act as the carrier for many different types of disease, including Weil’s disease, E.coli and salmonella. Weil’s disease is spread through contact with rat’s urine – for example by swimming in an infected river, canal or lake.  Rats also carry the bacteria which can lead to E.coli and salmonella, which is passed on to humans through infected food or water. As with Weil’s disease, it results in a fever, shivering, headaches, nausea and loss of appetite and should be treated promptly with antibiotics.

How to Stop Them

As a home- or business owner you have a legal obligation, under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act, to keep your property free of brown rats. There are a few simple steps you can take to minimise the risk of an infestation.

  • Seal gaps around pipes and under sheds, as they only need a gap of 15mm to gain entry
  • Remove any potential nesting sites by keeping backyards and gardens clean and tidy, cut back any overgrown areas and clear away any piles of wood/debris
  • Ensure that drain inspection covers are in good condition
  • Make sure any household waste is well covered up – this includes compost heaps as well as dustbins.

Rodent Control from Essex and Suffolk Pest Solutions

If you live in either Essex or Suffolk and have a rat problem, then we are the people to call. To bring brown rats under control quickly and effectively, we use anti-coagulant bait to remove them and make several visits to ensure they do not return.

At Essex and Suffolk Pest Solutions we provide fast, effective rodent control to customers in Clacton, Harwich, Manningtree, Stowmarket, Chelmsford and other towns and villages across both counties. We use discreet unmarked vans so there is no damage to your reputation. To learn more about our rat control services, follow the link above.

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