Identify Your Pest Problem
Rats - There are two species of rat in Britain, Rattus Norvegicus which is commonly known as the Brown Rat or Common Rat. The Rattus Rattus, known as the Black Rat or Ship Rat is now rarely found in the UK. The Brown Rat is the larger of the rats in Britain, often weighing over half a kilo and measuring about 23cm, without counting the tail. It has a blunt muzzle, small hair-covered ears and a tail that is shorter than its body. The Black Rat weighs half as much and is shorter. It has a pointed muzzle, large, almost hairless ears, a more slender body and a long thin tail that is longer than its body. Rats have well developed senses of smell taste and touch. They have an acute sense of hearing, frequently using ultrasound to communicate, and are particularly sensitive to any sudden noise. Both species breed rapidly and become sexually mature in about three months. Each female may produce from 3 to 12 litters of between six and eight young in a year. Rats need to gnaw to keep their constantly growing incisor teeth worn down. They damage woodwork, plastic, bricks and lead pipes, and will strip insulation from electrical cables. Brown Rats live in any situation that provides food, water and shelter. In homes, they will live in roof spaces, wall cavities or under floorboards. In gardens, they will burrow into grassy banks or under sheds. Brown Rats are often found living in sewer systems. Black Rats are rare and are occasionally found in shipping ports.
Rats feed mostly at night and an average rat will eat 50g of food a day. Preferred foods are cereal products, although rats are omnivorous and will eat almost anything that humans eat. Rats carry many nasty diseases which they can spread to humans, normally through their urine. including; Leptospirosis or Weil's disease, Salmonella, Listeria, Toxoplasma gondii and Hantavirus. Rats can inflict a great amount of structural damage. They can cause serious fires by gnawing away the insulation around electrical cables, floods by puncturing pipes and even death by chewing through gas pipes. The insurance sector have estimated that rodent damage to wiring is responsible for 25% of all electrical fires in buildings. Rats can ruin an organisation's reputation. If clients and customers spot evidence of rodent infestation in the premises you manage, they are unlikely to want to do business with you. Property owners have a legal obligation under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to keep premises rodent free, or, if rodents pose a threat to health or property, to report infestations to the local authority. Rats are adaptable, highly mobile and breed rapidly, this combination can make rat control a difficult task for the untrained individual.
Mice – The most common in Britain is the House mouse MUS DOMESTICUS. Like the rat, mice can cause tremendous damage when they enter our buildings and homes. Many campers and caravanner’s have suffered the effects of a winter mouse infestation, fabrics and canvas are shredded to make nests leaving expensive damage in their wake. Of course there are health implications too, mice have notoriously weak bladders contaminating foodstuffs with their urine as they move around
Grey Squirrels – Although they have become a seemingly charming part of our wildlife, we must not forget that the grey squirrel is not native to Britain having been introduced from the USA. They cause serious damage to our woodlands and forestry, stripping bark from saplings. In buildings they can gain access to roof spaces, gnawing through electrical wiring, plumbing and roof timbers. They may carry squirrel pox, a disease which is fatal to our rare native red squirrels. Nests of wild birds are raided and the eggs eaten
Rabbits – Like the grey squirrel, rabbits make up of part of our idyllic British country scene, however unchecked the damage they cause can be the ruin of gardens, sports fields and agricultural land. Crops and produce can be decimated. The potential speed of rabbit breeding is legendary with females producing up to five litters of up to a dozen offspring that reach breeding age themselves in under four months
Moles – Living mainly underground, moles are rarely seen, but their tunnels and mole hills are a common sight. On sports fields and in gardens their tunnels cause the ground above to collapse. They cause damage to crops and plants by eating their roots from beneath. Stones brought to the surface by their digging can damage mowers and harvesters, soil from mole hills can also spoil silage
Foxes – We have seen an explosion in the fox population in recent years possibly because of changes in legislation. They have been able to adapt to life in our towns and cities. This has led to a rise in complaints especially during breeding season when their barking and screaming at night cause disturbance. They mark their territories with a scent ( you may have noticed your dog rubbing their necks into this on the ground – very unpleasant!) Foraging in bins and faeces add to their unpopularity
Feral Cats and Stray Dogs – Domesticated pets are often abandoned and become feral or wild. Cats especially have learned to live “in the shadows” along side us. However the mess caused by foraging through refuse , excrement and their urine are harmful to our health particularly in sensitive areas such as food premises, hospitals and schools. Cats and dogs will be trapped (unharmed) and healthy animals are sterilised by a vet ready for “adoption
Wasps – Inflicting painful, dangerous stings the wasp can cause alarm when present in large numbers. A lone wasp can be dealt with easily , however a nest should only be tackled by a professional wearing protective clothing. Nests are treated with insecticides applied with special equipment directly into the nest site. Wasps nest removal is not always possible or necessary, but don’t worry, once treated a nest can never be used again. Wait until winter and simply break up the dried structure if it concerns you
Ants – Most common around buildings or in the garden is the Black or Garden ant. Found in soil or within masonry and under paving, they cause a nuisance when foraging in domestic or commercial premises for sugary foodstuffs. Within buildings we may encounter the Pharaoh’s ant, smaller and light yellow in colour they like heat and humidity and are notoriously difficult to eradicate. If found DO NOT spray with a fly or ant spray, unlike the Black ant, Pharaoh’s ants have multiple queens and can “bud off” into new colonies if disturbed MULTIPLYING THE PROBLEM MANY TIMES OVER. Special treatment is required
Bedbugs – Becoming more widespread again in Britain, bedbugs may be brought into your home in second hand furniture or on clothing, remaining undetected for considerable periods until a suitable host appears. They feed at night on the blood of their human host, very often scratching and itching results in secondary infection which can last for weeks. Treatment is very difficult as they may use even the inside if light fittings as harbourages which have to be removed and treated with residual insecticides. If bed bugs are detected, do not move anything from that room, treatment must begin immediately to prevent spreading
Fleas – Both cat and dog fleas can cause considerable distress. Their bites are very painful and can be responsible for the spread of tapeworm. They can remain inactive for a considerable time until a suitable host arrives, with vibration being the trigger for the adults to emerge from the pupa. This explains why even in an empty house which previously had pets, you may be attacked by fleas. FLEA BOMBS do not work! They will kill the exposed adults and larva but the eggs and pupa will remain deep within the carpet fibres in their protective casings. Ten to fourteen days later, when the new adults emerge they will be totally unaffected. Treatment must be in two stages using an insecticide with a residual action
Birds – Our feathered friends enjoy full protection of the law, however under various Acts (for pest birds) including The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, licences can be issued to authorised persons ” to kill or take certain birds to preserve public health or public safety” The list of pest birds which fall under these licences changes from time to time, so do not assume that your pest bird can be controlled by lethal methods. Wherever possible birds are disbursed by approved scaring devices, or discouraged from perching or nesting by the use of bird wires or bird spikes ( blunt spikes which cause no harm) If these measures do not work and public health or safety is compromised certain birds can be shot under a general licence as a last resort.
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