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Council cuts could send rat populations spiralling out of control in 2021

The number of rat infestations is increasing in the most deprived inner-city areas, and potential Council cuts to subsidised pest control services could hit the poorest hardest in 2021.

A jump of 25% in the rat population during 2020 has increased the pest control workload in most areas of the UK, as rats migrate from city centre commercial areas to inner city residential – increasing reports from worried residents about rat sightings.

Reports of rats being seen in open public areas during lockdown are common, with Council pest control departments being sent an increasing number of reports of rats in inner city residential areas as rats migrate in the search for food and shelter.

“Lockdown is presenting a serious challenge for pest controllers, none more so than where financial cuts and social distancing is hampering Local Authority departments in their ability to tackle rat populations. This is not only a funding issue – the population of rats is growing, and the ability to control them with traditional means is decreasing as 74% of UK rats have been shown to carry immunity to popular poisons”

Areas such as Bridgend where Councillor Nicole Burnett, cabinet member for social services and early help reported: “There does seem to be an increase in the rat population in residential areas, particularly residential areas close to town centres.” They have seen an increase of 47% in the reports of rat problems since 2016.

Rat on BinCardiff is suffering a similar problem, Gill Lewis from Caerphilly County Borough Council states: “there has been a significant increase in pest control requests since March 2020 because “more people are at home and seeing more pest activity than they usually would”.

“The big problem we face is that residents of more deprived inner-city areas tend to use Local Authority services to treat rodent problems, and it’s these areas rats are moving to during lockdown – any cuts to services will end up impacting the poorest the hardest – and we all know cuts are coming”, Rathbone adds.

UK Rat Population grew 25% last year (Source Pest.co.uk)

2019 – 120m

2020 – 150m

The issues currently affecting the control of the rat population in the UK are:

The first lockdown in March 2020 allowed rats to get a foothold, and breed well. The population increased 25% in 2020 from 120 million to 150 million.

Traditional pest control methods are becoming ineffective as the 2019-20 Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use survey of rats showed that 74% of rats in the UK carried a resistance gene to popular rodenticides, and even more worrying in some locations in the UK, 20% have two different genes, making them super resistant.

Pressure on Local Authority Pest Control departments to provide more services, with ever increasing strain on finances.

Pest.co.uk is advising anyone living in inner-city urban areas to take proactive measures before problems start, these include:

Block up holes – Fill any gaps in brickwork, shed doors and any holes on external walls of your home including cellars and attics

Clear cupboards – Empty unused cupboards of bags, clothes, rags and keep them clean

Secure all food sources – Make sure food is not left out, tidy away any open food sources and keep worktops and floors clean of crumbs

Prepare traps – by leaving out rat traps you can pre-empt any future infestation, however it is better to bait with official rat poison than leaving food scraps out

“2021 could be interesting and the longer the lockdown continues, the higher the risk that rats get a real foothold that will be hard to control come summer”, concludes Jenny Rathbone of Pest Controller Pest.co.uk

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