Rats have always been a problem throughout the UK and indeed all over the world. But the problem is about to get bigger as it has been discovered there is a new breed of rat in town. Research conducted by the University of Huddersfield has uncovered rats that are 100% resistant to poisons bought over the counter. Over the years they’ve genetically evolved to no longer be effected by poisons that are commonly available such as Bromadiolone and Difenacoum. The numbers of rats are expected to outnumber humans by as much as 2:1 by 2015. Figures show that their numbers have increased by 50% since last year. And expert opinion is that their population in the UK could reach a figure as high as 160 million by Christmas.
Rats and Disease?
For centuries rats have been considered a health hazard and quite rightly so. They spread disease, damage stores of food and peoples homes. The diseases they carry can be potentially fatal and include Weil’s disease, Lassa fever and bubonic plague. It’s possible to purchase professional quality poisons, but you need a special license if you want to use them outdoors, and they aren’t particularly friendly to other wildlife and the environment.
Rats in the City
Local council spending cuts and changes are not helping in the fight against these so called “super rats”. Fortnightly bin collections, and in some towns only once a month, mean there’s more rubbish lying around for longer periods of time which of course is very attractive to rats and encourages their breeding habits. Fly tipping has also become an increasingly serious problem in some areas as people are penalised if their rubbish collection exceeds a certain amount, leading them to be lazy and dumping their rubbish down the local lane. Many local councils don’t have any in house pest control services, where they were once provided free of charge, leaving residents and local business to tackle the problem by other means. Street cleaning budgets have been reduced by many local councils leading to rubbish piling up on the streets and in wasteland. Even the rich and famous are not immune from the super rat invasion. Famous actress Liz Hurley recently told newspapers that she “shrieked with fear” when a rodent was spotted in her living room.
What Can Be Done?
Now is the time for action to be taken to bring the rat population back into line. We don’t have access to the services of the Pied Piper to drive the rats into the sea, and sitting back and hoping the problem will solve itself isn’t the right course of action either. Rat traps are useful but only work with one rat at a time. Worryingly it has been shown that these vermin are highly intelligent and have discovered ways to steal the food from these rat traps without getting caught. They have learnt to avoid touching the pressure plate inside allowing them to steal away the food without suffering a broken neck. Decisions are currently being made behind closed doors by officials whether to bring into use the more powerful rat poisons and by the end of the summer their decision should have been made.
The jury is out as to whether these poisons are the most effective solution and there are currently two sides to the debate. On the one side the environmentalists who say the poisons will do untold damage to other wildlife and on the other side are the pro-poison camp who say this is the only way forward. Which side of the fence you decide to sit will depend on your own beliefs and experiences but as always those making the decision need to know how we all feel. So if you feel strongly about the use of poisons get in touch with your local authority to find out their position.