With the dawn of the new year, the Met Office predicts a cold spell with Arctic conditions set to grip the country and possibly a lot of snow. So, we should be particularly mindful of the risk of rodents looking for a cosy place to spend the winter nights and rat proofing your home is a must.
The UK is home to 120 million brown rats, and attics, garages and wall cavities are favourite places for them to shelter when outside conditions are unfavourable.
What’s the best way to deal with a rat infestation? Don’t let them in in the first place !
The average home has around 12 access points for rats to enter. If you’re serious about keeping them out, check every vent, all the doors and windows, the roof, the plumbing drain stack, the return air chase on air conditioning units, power line entry points, the chimney, everywhere you can think of.
Rats only need a tiny (15mm) hole to get in. Look out for telltale signs: most obviously, holes, but also droppings, gnawing and grease marks that rats leave on frequently navigated routes. These things will help you identify entry points. Aside from general all round surveillance, a few places need particular attention:
In an urban environment, rats love to be on roofs, indeed the common name for Rattus Rattus is Roof Rat. They are so named because they spend 90% of their time off the ground. They spend time on roofs because they want to get into the loft, and because roofs can be one of the most neglected parts of a house, they will nearly always find a way in.
Check any vents that are up there and cover them with mouse mesh, and mend any damaged eaves. Holes in the eaves provide direct access to your loft. Where the chimney and roof meet, there will be gaps sealed with roof tar, tiles and sealants. Over time these weather and break down leaving the gaps exposed.
Some rats will enter via a disused chimney so make sure chimneys are capped. Rats are very skillful climbers, so even if you have no overhanging trees, do not be complacent. They need very little purchase to scale a wall. And remember, if you have a tiled roof that is suffering from wear and tear, you have a multitude of entry points.
If you have addressed any points of entry on your roof , but rats have definitely moved indoors you need to get rid of them as swiftly as possible. The great thing about lofts is no one goes there, so you can bait to your heart’s content without having to worry about secondary poisoning and non-target species.
Rats love nothing more than chewing through the plastic insulation on wires and cables, causing costly damage for the householder.
Our Roban or Rodex Whole Wheat poison place packs would be ideal to throw into a loft space, especially if access is difficult.
If rats are roaming your garden, they are likely to be burrowing under your house. Again, find any points of entry and seal them up. You can happily do this before baiting the cellar because your first priority is to stop any more coming in. The same is true of cellars as of lofts.
It is very easy to deal with any infestation because you don’t have to worry about non-target species. As with the loft, it is easy to throw in a few sachets of grain, but if you prefer to secure the bait, place bait boxes with poison blocks or paste alongside cellar walls, or place traps.
Look outside. Rats are burrowing animals so they will create a whole network of tunnels if they are living in your garden. Filling every hole could be a big job and won’t necessarily get rid of the problem. The most time efficient thing to do is to put something down every potentially inhabited hole and check back after a few days to see which ones have been dislodged. These are the holes to target with poison, if it is certain the holes are deep enough to avoid the secondary poisoning of any protected wild animals or domestic cats.
Whatever you put into the hole, make sure it can’t simply be dislodged if it gets windy! Look for those telltale signs around the holes. If there are fresh droppings, there are active rats. If you feel the burrows aren’t deep enough to be baited safely, secure the poison in a bait box and place them strategically where you know the rats are active. A trap can be placed in these boxes too.
When sealing entry points make sure you use metal. Rats will chew through almost anything. Mesh air-brick covers, chicken wire sealed into holes, screws knocked into concrete. You need to do a thorough job to keep out a determined rat.
If you’re sealing around pipes, MouseStop Proofing Paste is a brilliant product. It remains soft inside when gnawed at which rats don’t like. It can be used around steel reinforcements too as a double barrier
Use a caulking product to effectively seal off the air-flow of an entry point. If rats smell an open cavity beyond a hole, they will be more inclined to chew their way in.
Prevention is better than cure. If you want to keep rats out of your home, be thorough. Rats are intelligent, wily, agile and persistant. Think like a rat. Think of what might attract them and make sure you do not make it available to them. Bird feeders and bird tables in gardens are a rat’s delight.
If you store dry produce in your garage or outhouse, make sure it is securely contained. Dog biscuits, dog food etc. is a real attractant for a hungry rodent. And make sure your dustbins are tidy and not overflowing with rubbish.
Check and seal every possible entry point you can find and remember rats only need a tiny hole to gain access, mice even smaller.