Super Rat - big, smart and immune to poison - alarms pest experts
Rising in numbers each year, the streetwise rats are unfazed by human beings. They are also believed to carry more disease than previously thought.
A surge in the rat population, which is up by almost 40 per cent on 1970 figures according to the latest Government research, means there are now about 60 to 70 million in the UK.
Pest control experts blame the failure to develop new poisons and widespread installation of cheaper, inefficient drainage pipes which rats can chew through. Some also blame poor co-ordination between local councils and the water companies, compared with the closer working relationship in pre-privatisation days. Water companies complain that councils don't notify them about infestations; councils in turn allege the utilities are failing to bait sewers regularly.
In addition, warmer winters and the rising number of fast food outlets - generating more food waste in the streets - are making it easier for rats to survive
Tony Stephens of Rentokil has warned that new poisons are not being developed quickly enough and that there is a real danger that so-called super-rats could become the norm, rather than the exception.
"Rats are definitely picking up a natural resistance to some of the traditional poisons and they will continue to unless new rodenticides are developed."
Sue Dow, zoologist and rat expert, believes the number of rats that actually become immune to poison is low. But, she says, "rats have got a very crafty way of dealing with poison, so they can be quite hard to kill. A wild rat will taste a small amount of food and then go away for a while. If it's sick then it won't go back to the food, but if after a while it is still ok, it will go and eat the rest."
One of the most dangerous diseases communicable from rats is Weil's disease which can cause jaundice, renal failure, even death. Rats can also carry salmonella, listeria, and Lyme disease.
Stephen Battersby, of the Robens Centre for Public and Environmental Health, believes the threat to human health is now serious particularly from infestations above ground, which he believes are caused by inadequate underground drainage and the use of plastic piping.
If that were not alarming enough, in her research into rural rats, Dr Joanne Webster of Oxford University has found some fatal diseases previously considered to be extremely rare were occurring much more frequently than expected, including Q fever and Hantaan fever.
Revealed: Devastating impact of 'bedroom tax' sees huge leap in demand for emergency hardship handouts for tenants
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II and left untouched for 70 years
Chloe Johnson death: Family of five-year-old British girl who died in a pool at in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh resort 'angry' that more wasn't done to save her
- 1 Stoke City investigate 'religious abuse' after 'pig's head is found in Kenwyne Jones' locker'
- 2 Gove’s lesson: spare the comma, spoil the child
- 3 Grace Dent on TV: Extreme Couponing, My Strange Addiction, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, TLC
- 4 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bens: Progressive Recruitment: C# WEB DEVELOPER Le...
£240 - £260 per day: Progressive Recruitment: WPF Developer (C#, VB.Net) North...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS2 teacher needed to do PPA ...