Richmondshire District Council

Information about rats

Rats are a public health hazard. They can transmit a number of diseases which can be potentially fatal to man, such as Weil's disease. They also carry disease organisms such as salmonella bacteria, viruses and parasites, such as worms and fleas.

In an urban environment, rats readily find food from a variety of sources, such as refuse from commercial kitchens and restaurants and discarded takeaway food, in addition to scavenging in domestic refuse or drains and sewers.

Rats will burrow, especially into soil, compost heaps, under coverings such as paved areas and under sheds. Gas and water pipes are also at risk and rat burrowing can undermine building foundations. They can be frequently found living inside buildings in the cavity between walls and in roof spaces, or beneath piles of rubbish, near water, or in drains and sewers.

Due to their agility and ability to squeeze through small openings, it is sometimes difficult to keep rats out of buildings without some form of rodent proofing being carried out.

Rats have very hard incisor teeth which can penetrate materials such as concrete, lead and aluminium.

This can result in expensive damage and even fires when electric cables are damaged.

Rats can breed quickly, a healthy female can produce five litters a year, each of eight-ten young with offspring attaining sexual maturity in eight -12 weeks.

It's quite easy for infestations to build up without ever noticing a rat. Their nocturnal habit tends to keep them away from human contact. If a rat is seen during the day, it's usually an indicator of a sizeable infestation.

Signs of infestation are droppings, gnaw marks, runs and smear marks produced by the continual rubbing of their fur against surfaces.

How to prevent an infestation

  • Ensure that all defective drainage is promptly repaired, such as broken drainpipes, and drainage chamber covers
  • Make sure your bin is emptied regularly, and refuse isn't allowed to accumulate in the yard or garden
  • Seal structural defects in the house to prevent rats gaining access
  • Place food intended for garden birds on a bird table or feeder, don't place food scraps directly on the ground
  • Removing easily-accessible food and eliminating shelter among the most basic and important preventative measures

If you notice signs of infestation, such as fresh rat droppings, gnaw or smear marks, take immediate action to control the infestation and contact our pest control service for treatment.

Fully trained officers will look at the infestation and draw up a treatment programme which involves placing poison baits in the most appropriate locations.

They will return to your home to make sure the treatment is successful.

Our service

The standard treatment costs can be found on our domestic fees page.

This covers:

  • Initial visit and assessment
  • Advice on possible infestation cause and measures to deal with it
  • If an active rat infestation is found or suspected, a pest control treatment using poison baits, traps or other techniques will be used to eradicate and monitor rat activity
  • Two further follow-up visits will continue treatment, including monitoring activity, replacing poison, and removing any bodies found
  • Any subsequent treatment visits will be agreed with the customer

If no treatment is carried out, you'll only pay a call-out and survey fee.

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