Home In focus Keeping rats out of your home and garden

Keeping rats out of your home and garden

by Gemma Melling

Further to last month’s Sustainable Borough Scrutiny Committee’s review of pest control services, a recommendation of the Committee was to promote steps you can take to help prevent rats coming into your home and garden.

We’ve produced some handy FAQs to help.

Which is the most common type of rat?

The brown rat is the most common type of rat which will seek out any environment that provides food, water and shelter. A brown rat can squeeze through a gap of less than 25mm and is attracted by wild bird food and compost heaps.

Signs to look out for around your home

Rats are extremely mobile and will constantly seek out food and shelter. They will nest and live in cellars, loft spaces, wall cavities or under floor boards. They can burrow under grassy banks, in compost heaps or under sheds. The signs to look out for include:

• Cigar-shaped droppings (around 10mm long).
• Signs of gnawing (on fruit, vegetables, wood or electric cables).
• Footprints, tail swipes or dark grey smears from rat fur left on surfaces.
• Burrow holes (between 7mm and 120mm) found under tree roots, drain cover surrounds, grassy banks and the edges of paving.

How can I prevent rats?

• Clear up food spillages immediately and move household refuse outside regularly.
• Use suitable containers (such as wheelie bins) and ensure they are put out for collection regularly.
• Don’t leave pet food outdoors and don’t use bird feeders (even suspended ones) as food can go on the ground and attract rats.
• Repair external structural faults to your home, holes and around pipes or cover damaged air vents with fine mesh (do not block air vents).
• Install draught excluders to fill gaps beneath external doors.
• Remove any accumulated rubbish as rats can make a home in untidy gardens, especially if there is a local food source.
• Don’t put food waste in compost bins. Place compost bins on a wire base to keep rodents out and replace any cracked or damaged bins.
• Issues such as fly tipping, overflowing bins etc can lead to rat infestations so please report any issues online at www.knowsley.gov.uk.

What is the council and other agencies doing?

• Knowsley Council’s pest control service treat rats in domestic and commercial properties. Further information is available on the council’s website.

• If you live in a rented property, contact your landlord to arrange treatment of rats or repair of your property as soon as possible.

• The council is working closely with housing developers during the planning process to identify the risk of pest displacement during the course of a development and will require them to remedy this.

• The council is taking a proactive stance with local landlords (including registered social landlords) to ensure that they fulfil their statutory obligations and are proactive in tackling and preventing pests.

• The sewer baiting programme is managed by United Utilities and the council is continuing to encourage United Utilities to deliver this programme in Knowsley with a view to introducing it as soon as possible.

• To report drainage defects, contact United Utilities on 0345 672 3723.