Why London is crawling with rodents?
They say in London you are never more than 6 feet from a rat. While this may not be strictly true, the likelihood of bumping into a rat in London is fairly high.
But what about mice? Well, if you happen to be passing through a tube station there’s actually more chance of encountering a mouse than a rat. The London tube network is home to hundreds of thousands of these little creatures.
So, just why is London crawling with rats and mice?
The main reason why London is home to such a vast number of rodents is due to the fact that the capital is so densely populated. Typically, the more densely populated a city or town, the greater chance that rodent populations can thrive. More people means more food, and more waste, which attracts rodents. London is home to more than 9.3 million people and has over 18,000 food establishments. Not including food markets that are also a prime target for rodent activity. That’s a lot of food and a lot of waste up for grabs.
The sheer number of people in London means that it’s likely the rodent population will never die out. Coupled with the fact that many Londoners live in flats or terraced houses, treating an infestation is harder in London as rodents have a wider variety of food sources in one place.
While rats and mice have access to food sources and shelter, they will continue to breed and populate. What’s more, rodents breed at an astonishing rate. Rats and mice will mate roughly every 4 weeks and reproduce at just 6-8 weeks old. Which means a small number of rats can turn into a mass infestation quickly.
Without proper control measure (routine visits, pest control treatments, etc.) rodent populations can spiral and this is what we have seen during lockdown.
How has Covid-19 affected London’s rodent population?
With commercial premises, including food establishments, closed from March onwards, it would be reasonable to think that the rodent population would decrease. Many people moved out of London, office buildings were left empty, cleared of food and waste. However, the surge in calls regarding rodents in London since lockdown would suggest otherwise.
Rodents in London are often found living in the sewers beneath the city, coming up to our level for food, water or nest materials. Although traditionally nocturnal creatures, the rats and mice of London adapted to the quietened city life and began venturing out during daylight hours.
People returning to back to work in London have been met by infestations of rats where previously empty office buildings may have been inhabited during lockdown. HR company, PersonnelToday, has reported that lockdown has increased the population of rats and mice in London leading to report of rats being seen when returning to the office.
The lockdown has led to the closure of many commercial premises and the disruption of pest control services. Because of this, many business owners have requested to postpone upcoming visits or even cancel their pest control contracts altogether. Meanwhile, some pest control companies reduced their services. This absence of pest management in closed premises has encouraged infestations. Left to their own devices, the rodent population has continued to breed increasingly and cause havoc on the city of London.
While we can’t provide London with the modern-day Pied Piper, we can provide you with some tips on how to prevent rodents entering your home or business premises:
- Block up any holes. For many properties (particularly, office buildings, flats and terraced houses) it is worth investing in professional rodent proofing.
- Keep kitchens and food areas clean and free from clutter or crumbs. Kitchens are a prime target for rats and mice.
- Keep food stored in airtight containers. This includes pet food – if stored outside, make sure it kept in an air-sealed container stored above the ground.
- Keep your bins sealed and away from your home.
- If you have a compost heap, avoid putting food in it and try to store it above the ground if possible.
- Bird feeding can be a food source for rodents, particularly rats – make sure bird feeders are kept above ground level and try to prevent any bird feed debris falling on the ground. Use rat-proof bird feeders (or you could even make your own!)
- Keep gardens clean and tidy – this removes potential nesting sites for rats.
- If you encounter evidence of rats or mice, act immediately – rodents can carry nasty diseases that can spread to humans. Call a reputable pest control company.
Signs of a rodent infestation:
- Evidence of droppings (find out whether droppings are from mice or rats here).
- The smell of urine or areas which are stained and could be attributed to urine.
- Evidence of gnawing or nesting.
- Scratching noises – rats and mice are nocturnal so any activity is likely to be heard at night. They will mostly nest in the loft/attic areas and use cavities for movement in and around the house.
What to do if you think you have a rodent infestation:
PESTUK are full members of the BPCA, the governing body for pest control in the UK. Using a BPCA member company ensures you have a qualified, fully insured company treating your pest problem. Therefore, with PEST UK you can have peace of mind knowing that you are dealing with a professional pest control service that is near you.
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