What do they look like?
The common, or brown, rat typically
has brownish fur on its back and grey underneath but colour can
vary from white through to black. Adult body length is 200 - 270mm
plus a tail length of 150 - 200mm.
The ship, or black rat, which is
nowadays rarely encountered in Britain, is smaller than the common
rat and usually black in colour. It has large hairless ears and a
tail that is longer than its head and body length.
The water rat, or water vole, can
sometimes be mistaken for the brown rat, particularly near canal or
river banks. The water vole is a protected species.
Where do they live?
Common rats live in any situation
that provides food, water and shelter. In homes they will live in
loft spaces, wall cavities, cellars or under floorboards. In
gardens, they will burrow into compost heaps and grassy banks or
under sheds. They are commonly found living in sewer systems.
Ship rats are agile climbers and are
usually found indoors, living in roof spaces. They are rarely found
in sewer systems.
What do they eat?
Their favourite foods are cereal
products, although they will eat almost anything that humans eat.
Most of the damage they do is by gnawing and ripping open packets.
They also foul food with urine and droppings.
What are the signs of
- Sightings of live rats.
- Common rat droppings are usually 12mm long and taper at
- Runs - rats follow the same routes when travelling, and leave
trails through the grass and low vegetation.
- Footprints and tail swipes - on muddy or dusty surfaces.
- Smears - dark grey marks left on surfaces by repeated contact
with rat fur.
- Burrows - entrance holes 7 - 120mm in diameter in grassy banks,
under tree roots, at the edge of paving or drain cover
- Nests - sometimes found indoors, in lofts or under
- Gnawing - rats gnaw continually, even on non-food materials, in
order to wear down their front teeth.
Are they a health risk?
Rats can transmit many diseases to
humans, including Salmonellosis (food poisoning) and Weils
Rats will eat or contaminate food
intended for humans. It is estimated that up to 5% of food produced
world-wide is lost as a result of rodent activity.
Damage to buildings and other
structures due to rat gnawing and burrowing.
How do I control them?
Rats are adaptable, highly mobile
and breed rapidly. This combination makes rat control a difficult
task for the untrained individual.
We provide a service for the
treatment of rats in domestic properties. Fully trained Pest
Control Officers will survey the infestation, then place poison
bait in the most appropriate locations. Follow up visits will be
made in order to ensure the success of the treatment.
Householders can assist in
preventing infestation by some simple measures:
- Remove potential nesting sites by keeping yards and gardens
clean and tidy, and by cutting back overgrown areas.
- Do not feed wild birds or other animals to excess - you may be
feeding the rats as well!
- Keep your home in good repair so that rats cannot gain access
to it. Ensure that the drain inspection covers are in place and are
in good repair.
- Do not leave household waste where rats can get at it.
Last Updated on 9/12/2013