Have you noticed an increase of rats around in Hackney lately? Is it because, like many other boroughs in London, they are everywhere? Unfortunately the answer is yes. It is said that there are roughly 90 million rats in the UK to a population of just 60 million people, and that is only an estimate. That’s about 1.5 rats per person, when in reality it could be as much as nearly 3 rats per person. Many people are saying that the increase has happened mostly in the last 5 years during the current recession. Many are saying that thanks to the confusion in council refuse collections being reduced to fortnightly in some areas, then being bought back to weekly has not helped the matter. “We didn’t know when to put the rubbish out”. Of course the longer rubbish is out; the more food there is for the rats. When rubbish is put out early, maybe because smaller houses or flats do not have the room to keep lots of rubbish indoors, and who really wants to, it just invites the rats and other scavengers, like urban foxes, to come for food.
Other contributing factors could be the rise in small food businesses popping up in Hackney all of the time and more and more people choosing to eat these take away foods as a quick convenient snack, or sometimes actually dinner, and not discarding the left over food and packaging properly. And with the council cut backs that are always happening, there are not enough street litter pickers to clean the mess up we leave behind and empty the bins.
As well as the associated food in the street problems, there are the problems that may affect the home. The most common and sometimes destructive is the chewing of electrical cables. Rats are always chewing and gnawing at things. This is because of their constantly growing teeth. Like humans and our nails, rats and their teeth need to be kept down in size for both comfort ability and the need to keep them sharp for defence uses. The chewing threw electrical cables by rats is thought to cause approximately 20% of fires in homes in recent times. There is also the damage done to any plastic piping that water may flow through like washing machines and dishwashers, because like humans rats need water to survive. This can of course cause flooding in your home resulting in expensive repair bills. Wooden kitchen units and rafters in the roof can be chewed through at an alarmingly fast rate. All of this damage can be averted by using professional pest control at the first signs of a rat problem.
So what should you look out for? If a rat problem has arisen in your local area and you are worried, some things to look out for would be; Holes in the earth around your property, usually around the size of a golf ball may indicate some underground nesting, small holes chewed out in the corners of kitchen units and walls or in the kickboards at the bottom of the units, droppings in hidden places like under units, behind appliances and in cupboards.