Posted 6th Nov 2017
The extreme weather that has been seen across the UK in recent weeks could potentially leave households in the UK facing unwanted visitors
High winds, flooding and storms have been experienced across the nation, and could lead to pests, sic as rats and squirrels, seeking shelter from the adverse conditions.
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has warned homes are a prime target, with access to warmth and food providing the right conditions for them to take hold.
BPCA experts have said the average property could have more than a dozen entry potential entry points for these pests.
Dee Ward-Thompson, BPCA Technical Manager, said: "Rats and squirrels are exceptionally agile and despite their size even adult males can get through gaps as small as two centimetres."
"Of concern, particularly from a public health perspective, is the way rats can travel along flooded drains, surviving even the most aggressive weather conditions."
"They often use plumbing pipes, as well as unscreened vents or gaps in the eaves and roof edges, to gain access."
"For most householders, the first evidence that rats have entered their home is noises under the floor, in the walls or loft, as that’s where most will head to once they’re inside."
"Once indoors, they do their best to find sources of food, which means they can soon move to other areas of the house occupied by humans."
"Rats also breed rapidly and will create nests in attics or walls, so the problem can soon escalate."
"For squirrels, the wind has displaced a large number of leaves in the trees fairly early on, so they will be looking for shelter too."
"They will enter a property usually through roof ducts and set up home above the ceiling."
"Squirrels in the home can present a real hazard. They are generally bigger than rats and once indoors they start to chew aggressively and can do a lot of damage quickly."
"That can include electrical wires, which can present a real safety risk."
They warned the best course of action for householders would be to prevent the infestation taking hold in th first place, instead of tackling it when the creatures have already moved into the property. It is being advised that properties are inspected, with any external gaps, holes or crevices being plugged.
Tips from the trade body include keeping yards and gardens tidy and clear of vegetation to ensure these creatures cannot take cover in the vicinity, and making sure doors and windows are closed properly, with no ready access to drainage routes either, with properly fitted drain covers.
It is also recommended refuse bins should be kept in good order, especially as windy weather can result in them being knocked over, and provide feed sources for rats. This includes solid lids with no leftover food or debris left nearby.
Other tips include covering compost heaps, and keeping bird feeders clean and well-maintained.
If a householder suspects an infestation, they are advised to employ a recognised professional.
Mrs Ward-Thompson added: "Rats and squirrels must be dealt with by a professional pest controller who knows the area in question and their likely habitat, and knows how to treat any particular issue."
"Most people simply want the job done right first time and, by employing a company or individual affiliated with BPCA, they can be sure they’re using an expert in the field."
"We’ve established strict criteria to ensure the professionalism of our members so controllers carrying our logo will carry out safe, effective and legal treatments."