By Rural Correspondent - 16th February 2016 6:00am
This is not an exclamation of annoyance. Well it is I suppose but its about rats as vermin in the garden or even worse in the house.
There are two species of rat in Britain, Rattus Norvegicus which is commonly known as the Brown Rat or Common Rat and the nowadays rare Black Rat or Ship Rat.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. Rats 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. Wow that's some going!
That's the cute bit over.
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.
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.
The reality is they cause a whole raft of problems. Rats carry many nasty diseases which they can spread to humans, normally through their urine. including; Leptospirosis or Weil's disease, Salmonella, Listeria.
Now 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.
I was not aware that 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.
What is so important is to get rid of them before they have any chance of getting into your house.
Insurance companies have said that 25% of house fires are caused by rats chewing through wiring.
The smell of rat droppings is an easy tell-tale so don't ignore it and they will usually be in one place unlike mouse droppings.
So far I have caught four rats of various sizes- I won't go into the gory details!. Things have been quiet for a few days but I'm not resting on my laurels but about to do my rounds of the sniff tests.