Super rats up to 20 inches long are invading British homes via toilets and drainpipes – is YOUR house at risk?
THEY say you’re never more than six feet away from a rat — but if you have plastic drainpipes in your home, you’re probably even closer.
Pest controllers are warning that millions of super-size disease-ridden rodents are scurrying into houses after gnawing through plastic drainpipes as temperatures plummet.
While traditionally drainpipes were made from cast iron, most modern drainpipes are plastic and pest control experts are warning that rats with razor sharp teeth can chew through them.
Although they normally live underground, rats go in search of food and warmth at this time of year – and houses across the UK are at risk of invasion as we face the coldest winter in 30 years.
Massive increase in rats this year
Peter Higgs, who runs PGH Pest Control in Surrey, says he’s seen a massive increases in the numbers of rats he’s found inside UK homes over the past few weeks – and says they can get into houses via holes as small as half an inch.
Horrifyingly, they can also get in through toilets via the sewage system – though this is rare.
“British homes are the perfect hunting ground for rats and we’ve noticed a massive, massive increase in the amount of them,” he tells us.
“Most carry Weil’s disease – which can be deadly to humans, so it’s very important to protect your home by cramming holes with filler and wire brushes where possible.
How to protect yourself against rats
Don’t leave any food out in your home
Ensure all outdoor bins are secured
Don’t leave bird food on the floor in the garden
Fill in all holes into and out of house with wire wool and cement
Keep pet food in sealed containters and remove all remnants from pet-feeding area
Don’t put any organic food waste on your compost heap
Fit strips to the bottom of doors that have more than half an inch gap
Keep toilet lids closed
Use rat deterrents like isotronic repellers which emits different frequencies of ultrasonic wave to irritate nervous system of insects and rats
Keep peppermint oil out – they hate the smell
“It’s absolutely going to get worse over the next few weeks and months – especially with so much rain.
“Rats need to drink a lot of water every day so they thrive in wet conditions like we’re seeing at present.
“Not only are there increased numbers of rats – the beasts are also much, much bigger this year due to phenomenal amounts of food waste and less frequent bin collections.
“Fortnightly collections mean rubbish is left out in the street which provides a ready food supply for rats.
“These super rats can be over 20 inches long from head to tail – that’s about the same size as the average domestic cat.
100 rats in the ceiling
These giant rats enter our homes through underground sewer systems when the weather turns colder.
Here, they eat human faeces and the flesh of other dead rats – but there’s not enough to go round, forcing the beasts to invade homes.
Pest controller Peter explains: “You’ve only got to have a small gap in your sewer system and they then crawl up through the toilet. So it’s a big, big problem.
“Just last week we were called to a house in London which had 100 rats living in the ceiling.
“The couple living there have had to leave with their three young kids while we take the ceiling down. It’s awful.”
Peter explains that anyone with plastic drains is at risk – as rats can chew threw them in minutes.
Because they spend so much time in filth, rats pose a threat to human health.
Chris Davis, Technical Manager of Cleankill Pest Control in London, said: “Usually they come from the sewers, so obviously there’s a potential to carry disease – Weil’s disease is the big one.
“It is a very nasty illness that causes jaundice and sickness. We have to be very careful and protect against it when we work in drains and things like that.
“Potentially it can be fatal, and it’s a very debilitating jaundice.”
What is Weil’s Disease?
Weil’s disease, also called Leptospirosis, is an infection spread in the urine of infected animals – most commonly rats, but also in pigs, cattle, and dogs.
Symptoms include a high fever, chills, sudden headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, muscle pain – particularly in the calves and lower back, conjunctivitis, a cough and a short-lived rash.
It attacks the kidney and liver, before eating its way through your other organs.
People most at risk are those who work with or near animals, or near water. So farmers, vets, and butchers are at risk, along with pest controllers, sewer workers and people who take part in water sports.
If you develop a flu-like illness seven to 12 days after contact with fresh surface water or with rats, visit your GP and explain you may have been exposed to the disease.
And disease isn’t the only way that the vermin pests pose a threat.
They use their razor-sharp teeth to chew through wiring, which can lead to fire risks in buildings.
In one case, Peter was called to deal with a rat that’d chewed wiring under a car’s bonnet, immobilising the vehicle, before getting stuck.
And last year, computer salesman Robert Scriven was stunned to find a rat he’d caught escaped by chewing through the steel wiring of a trap.
But they’ll also chew through anything in your home to get to somewhere warm to nest or to find food to eat.
Rats’ teeth never stop growing and the rodents have to constantly gnaw strong materials to keep their gnashers sharp.
Incredibly, their teeth are harder than iron, meaning they can chew through copper pipes and even bricks.
Which comes in handy when they’re looking to find their way into houses.
Peter said: “A rat can get through anything bigger than half an inch.
“If the hole isn’t quite big enough, the rats will just chew it to make it bigger.”
This rat had chewed its way through a car’s wires, disabling the vehicle, before getting itself stuck
Credit: Peter Higgs
Keep them in the sewers
There are things you can do to deter rats from invading your house this winter.
One is to make sure no food is left lying around, particularly in bin stores, and that dustbins have lids that tightly close.
You should also check the outside of your home for holes around pipework and gaps in doors.
If there are gaps, you can plug them with wire wool or cement to keep the rodents at bay.
And you should also be wary of what’s going on in your garden too.
Chris said: “Be careful with what you put on your compost heap. Things like meat, bits of old bacon, that’s not a good idea as that’ll attract rats to the area.
“And be careful what you put out for the birds. Make sure it’s not too much food and it’s the birds that are eating it and not the rats.”
Pest controllers say now is the time when Brits should be most on-guard against rat infestation.