MUTANT sewer rats could soon plague homes in south-east London as rain continues to pour across the region.
With flooding sweeping through much of the country the rodents, which are thought to be immune to most poisons, have been infiltrating houses as waters rise.
The capital is rife with the creatures and with heavy rainfall predicted in the South East in the coming days the problems seen in countryside might arrive in News Shopper territory.
It’s been reported in rural areas the diseased pests have been sneaking through holes and travelling up drainpipes to escape floods and build new lives in lofts and warm corners of peoples’ homes.
Pest controller Rentokil reported on its website that the razor-toothed mammals are simply seeking drier places to dwell following the adverse conditions.
The service said: “Rodents have also had to abandon their homes as rivers overflow their banks, sewers flood and allotments, parks and other grounds become waterlogged.
“Rats are forced to vacate flooded and damaged burrows in search of new, drier harbourages. These can include homes, outbuildings, compost heaps or factory buildings.”
Calls to pest controllers have risen as a result, with a British Pest Control Association spokeswoman stating: “We are extremely busy at the moment with the flooding”.
The Environment Agency (EA) yesterday said with the potential for more heavy rainfall there’s a high probability of further river, coastal and groundwater flooding – with numerous warnings and alerts in place.
Dave Bedlington, of the organisation, explained that with “water levels already and responsive this could lead to further property flooding in the coming days”.
Health experts have been warning residents to take precautionary measures to prevent rats pouring in as the harsh weather refuses to ease.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has in the past mentioned a number of ways of dealing with the rodents.
Director Julie Barratt advised blocking up holes and making sure food is disposed of properly. She added rats were “intelligent, adaptable creatures” that “exploit new opportunities” and said: "It's really important people remember when throwing food out, to try to keep it out of the way of pest species”.
Sewer rats: A fact file
- Their Latin name is Rattus norvegicus and they are also known as the brown rat, street rat or common rat.
- They can grow up 25cm in length and an average male weighs around 350g.
- Thought to have come from China, brown rats now infest every continent bar Antarctica.
- They live where we live and are particularly prevalent in urban areas.
- Brown rats are known to harbour disease, such as Weil’s Disease and rat bite fever.
- The rodents are expert in jumping, climbing in swimming and can squeeze through very small holes.
- A single pair can produce 200 offspring in a single year.
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