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London rats are invading people’s homes because of Covid lockdown

London rats: Exterminators discuss lockdown rise in numbers

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With many restaurants and office buildings now empty, hungry rodents have migrated to people’s homes in search of food. During lockdown, the empty buildings in London’s city centre have given rats no choice but to move into the suburbs looking for food. With more people spending time in their homes, more rubbish is being generated which is perfect for the rats who need to feed. Pest exterminators are overwhelmed with the amount of call outs they are receiving to deal with rat sightings.

Paul Claydon, an exterminator based in Epping Forest, told CNN: “It might be that we are seeing and hearing them more often, working from home in the office under the loft… but I fear London may get a big surprise when it reopens. Especially if businesses and properties that did have a problem haven’t kept up with their pest control plans.”

The British Pest Control Association (BPCA), which represents 700 vermin catchers across the UK, said exterminators reported a 51 percent rise in rodent activity during the first lockdown in spring 2020, and 78 percent during the November lockdown.

Figures have not been calculated for the third lockdown yet.

Natalie Bungay of the BPCA told CNN: “We may see rats now where we wouldn’t normally because they are so desperate.”

She warned: “Rats can chew through very hard substances like soft metals and brick.”

To add more worry, rats are also getting larger in size. Mr Claydon said it is not uncommon to find rats up to 40cm in length, requiring stronger traps and more poison.

CNN reports that London does not seem to have an overarching plan to control the rats.

The mayor’s office told CNN that they were not best placed to respond to their questions because it is the job of London’s 32 boroughs to collect data on the issue.

CNN reports that a spokesperson for the borough of Richmond upon Thames said they do not collect data on rats and does not offer pest control services.

It is estimated that there are 20 million rats in London, with predictions that this number may have increased to 30 million during the pandemic.

Research from pest control firm Rentokill, claim just one breeding pair of rats can lead to the birth of about 1,250 in a year.

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Ms Bungay says that the best way to control the issue is prevention. Including sealing off any food waste outside the house in appropriate rubbish containers, keeping food locked away inside the house and checking all air vents are properly protected with steel mesh and cracks filled with steel and cement. Gardeners should also be aware that compost heaps attract rats.

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