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Starving rats feast on discarded Christmas leftovers

Pest controllers are issuing a warning to householders to be more careful with Christmas leftovers, after a surge in rat problems caused by a “perfect storm” of carelessly discarded Christmas food waste, cold weather and the skyrocketing population of urban rats this year.

“The problems are huge – the rat population going into Winter was 25% higher than last year, and we are entering a cold period – rats are moving around trying to find food and shelter – many are attacking domestic bins, and anyone being careless about their Christmas rubbish will pay the price”

Most homes produce large quantities of food waste over Christmas and with the combination of less frequent waste collections – bins are overflowing. The advice is to avoid placing any food waste outside of a secure wheelie bin. The warning is even extended to cardboard and wrapping paper, which make perfect bedding materials for rats seeking shelter.

2020 has been a bumper year for rats – with the UK population up 25% caused by lockdowns, vacant commercial property, and poor waste management. However, many rats are now being forced to move towards residential areas are commercial food sources are drying up.

The other worrying news is that 74% of rats now carry a “hybrid-resistance” to common pest control poisons – which could mean next year rat infestations are harder (or more expensive) to control. The recent 2019-20 Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use survey of rats showed that three-quarters 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.

“More and more people are seeing rats in the open – this is a sign that numbers are high. We are heading for a cold snap, and rats are busy raiding food sources and bedding down – call numbers are already increasing”, says Rathbone.

Pest.co.uk is issuing the following advice to anyone worried about rats over the Christmas and New Year break:

  1. Do not leave any food waste unprotected – Any excess rubbish which contains food of any sort should be kept secure, do not leave any bags anywhere outside which contain food, especially Christmas dinner leftovers
  2. Consider placing a brick or heavy object on top of your wheelie bin
  3. Keep all areas of your home clean and tidy
  4. Block up any gaps or holes in brickwork
  5. Remove cardboard and wrapping paper – these are idea bedding materials for rodents

“The advice is really simple – do not leave any Christmas waste in the open or outside a secured bin. Do not leave, under any circumstances, any Christmas food waste inside your home – as the rat infestation threat level is currently extremely high”, warns Jenny Rathbone from Pest.co.uk

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