London: Increase in ‘plague of rats’ investigated by team
The nation rejoiced after Prime Minister Boris Johnson eased lockdown restrictions on April 12 to allow non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and pub beer gardens to open their doors once again. But there is a new “plague” breaking out on the streets of Britain – with offices and restaurants closed for much of the year, Britain’s rat population is said to have surged by a quarter to an estimated 150 million. With many Britons working from home, far more waste than usual is piling up outside their front doors – and the rats have cottoned on.
Peter Higgs, managing director of PGH Pest Control and Prevention, in Surrey, said his firm has seen a 50 percent increase in residential call-outs since social distancing measures were introduced.
He said: “They are coming into homes – that’s exactly what’s happening.
“All of the waste that was produced by people eating food out, and from establishments doing the cooking – that’s gone.
“I think some bin collections aren’t quite as frequent at the moment too. They are getting into rubbish.
Rat populations are said to have exploded in the UK
Some rats are braving the move into homes
“When they are hungry they will eat each other. They will use a hierarchy in cities – the big rats will eat the smaller ones.
“They will come in using the drainage system – they eat faeces.”
Bosses at Cleankill Pest Control have warned the increase in “outdoors eating” during the pandemic has also meant there are now far more scraps of food left lying around.
Overflowing litter bins have only added to the problem.
As Britons head to parks to eat and drink in the good weather, some fail to take their litter home – and this is said to have multiplied the issue.
READ MORE: Giant rat ‘plague’ hits UK gardens as 80% increase in rodent activity sparks pest ‘war’
A rise in little is causing problems
Basildon Council in Essex has announced that it will spend £70,000 on a “specialist” to exterminate an estimated 400,000 rodents.
They will remove the pests from parks and streets following a 300 percent rise in rodent population since the pandemic began just a year ago.
Kevin Blake, an independent councillor who pushed for the move, said “It’s getting to the point where the rats are coming up to your hands for food.
“I go to Northlands Park nearly every day, and they’re so visible every time.
“A dog was chasing one the other day, you see rats swimming among the birds all the time.
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Bins have been seen overflowing
“The pest control officer won’t be going around to people’s homes to deal with infestations, it will be purely for parks.
“We know that’s where the problem – they’re looking for food.”
The British Pest control said its members reported a 51 percent hike in rodent activity during the first lockdown in spring 2020, and a 78 percent increase when the shutdown returned in November.
And now experts fear the problem could get worse.
Sam Devereux, of JG Pest Control in London, added: “People being at home more has seen the number of residential callouts increase.
Pest controllers have reported more call-outs
“In 10 years this was the busiest winter we have ever had.
“But now with the weather improving and pubs, bars and restaurants opening up again, rodents are going to be migrating elsewhere.
“We have contracts with pubs, restaurants and takeaways and, while they have stopped with them being closed, we are expecting to have a busy spring and summer with them.
“As the temperature changes, they will be less inclined to seek shelter in people’s homes and this will be perfect timing with food and drink businesses opening up again.”