The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 is clear that the responsibility for dealing with rats falls to the land owner, so it is essential owners take responsibility and understand that any enforcement action will be taken against them if they fail to manage their land appropriately.
Rat droppings are around 2cm (3/4”) long and cigar shaped. If they’re moist and dark it’s a sign that rats are in the area.
Rats gnaw constantly and cause damage to belongings, structures, pipes and electric cables as well as food packets. This damage can cause electrical fi res, problems with drainage systems and even subsidence.
Rats run along the same path many times and leave black, greasy marks.
Rats live in burrows with entry and exit holes 5-7cm wide. If the hole is smooth and shiny it could be an active burrow. The holes could be under bushes or plants. They can also nest in roof spaces and upper floors of buildings.
Dispose of waste food in your wheeled bin and make sure you can close the lid. Do not leave it lying around in bags or sacks.
Only put garden and uncooked vegetable waste on compost heaps. Either put them on a hard surface or use wire netting underneath to stop rats.
Rats can be found anywhere that offers shelter, food and water. The most common species within the UK is the common or brown rat which is physically strong, can jump up to three metres and can squeeze through a gap of less than 2.5cm. They are mainly active at night but you may see them searching for food and water during the day. They are efficient burrowers and like compost heaps and areas under hedges and sheds where they dig shallow burrows and make nests with dry grass and leaves. In houses they nest in wall cavities and under floorboards.
Make sure your soil vent pipe is capped and keep gutters clear. Look out for gnaw and rub marks at entry points as well as damage to the eaves
Remove rubbish, piles of wood and garden waste where rats could make a nest.
Keep your garden tidy and clear overgrown areas. Cut tree branches so they do not overhang your property.
Wall climbing plants should be trimmed and not allowed to reach from ground to roof level.
An inactive burrow will have leaves, cobwebs or other debris around the entrance. Close these holes so rats can’t get back in. Fill holes in the garden with soil and pressing it down.
Close holes in walls with cement.
Rats will eat bird and pet food so make sure you keep food off the ground. If feeding wild birds use suspended wire feeders with attached waste trays and only put out enough food for the day. Clear away spilled bird or pet food immediately.
If you are building an extension or conservatory ensure good workmanship as unfinished or poor workmanship can provide a perfect access for rats.
Keep your property in good repair. To ensure a rat infestation in your garden does not enter your home you should repair any external structural faults.
Seal holes around pipes with wire wool and fill with cement or expanding foam. Damaged or old air vents with holes bigger than 2.5cm should be replaced, repaired or covered with fine mesh – make sure you don’t block them though. Gaps under external doors should be blocked with draught excluding brushes or bristle strips or the threshold raised.
Check your drainage is in good repair as rats can access the house via broken pipe work.
Report any local refuse issues or flytipping to the Council. Report local businesses who have overflowing bins or who don’t clear the rubbish their business or customers create.
If you already have rats you may need to consider hiring professional help.
We do not recommend you use over the counter bait as it is less effective than that used by pest controllers and may simply provide a food source for the rats.
We strongly advise you use a professional pest control service such as those accredited by BASIS PROMPT, British Pest Control Association (BPCA) or National Pest Technicians Association (NPTA).
A good company should:
We offer a pest control service for rats and mice in domestic premises for a charge.
Before contacting Reading Borough Council have you…
Call 0118 937 3787.
Download and print the Helping Prevent Rats on Your Property leaflet.