Winter lockdowns coupled with cold weather could produce ‘perfect storm’ for rat breeding

‘We typically see a 50 per cent increase in reports of rat problems going into the winter months, but we are staffing up this year for even more,’ pest control expert says

Samuel Osborne
Friday 09 October 2020 01:17
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Rats typically have six litters of between six and 12 pups each year
Rats typically have six litters of between six and 12 pups each year

Coronavirus lockdowns coupled with cold weather could cause a “perfect storm” for rat infestations in homes, a pest control agency has warned.

Experts say homeowners must prepare for what it called the worst-case scenario of a cold winter, empty commercial properties closed due to lockdown and dwindling food sources, which could prompt rats to seek shelter inside homes.

“We are facing a challenging winter with potentially ‘perfect storm’ conditions as the bad news of more lockdowns seems inevitable, rats are breeding like crazy in quiet streets and closed commercial properties – the fear is they will come into homes looking for food when the cold hits,” Jenny Rathbone, from pest control company Pest.co.uk, said.

Empty commercial buildings with dwindling food sources have been blamed for the increased presence of rats in city centres during lockdown in the summer months.

This winter, as shops and businesses are forced to close due to local lockdowns, the creatures’ usual sources of food will dry up.

Also, the hard ground caused by the dry summer and early cold weather are forcing families of rats to seek easier shelter, with rats turning up in outbuildings, attics and quiet areas between walls and floors.

“The issue currently is that local lockdowns are forcing commercial premises to close, these are natural habits for rats, who would have made home close to businesses with careless food waste habits, however these food sources are running out”, said Ms Rathbone.

Rats typically have six litters of between six and 12 pups each year.

Pest.co.uk advises anyone living in cities to take proactive measures before the height of winter, including blocking up any holes, clearing cupboards, securing all food sources and preparing traps.

“We typically see a 50 per cent increase in reports of rat problems going into the winter months, but we are staffing up this year for even more, and from what we see it’s going to be a busy few months,” Ms Rathbone added. 

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