General information about rats and mice
The house mouse and the brown rat are common rodent pests. We all have a responsibility to ensure that our homes, gardens and local environment are kept free from rodents.
Rats and mice breed very quickly. A pair of rats can produce several litters a year, with each litter producing about eight young. The offspring mature three months after birth and breed at the same rate.
Rats are efficient burrowers and can burrow for several metres horizontally. Both rats and mice are good climbers and can climb vertical walls if the surface is rough enough, and “shimmy” up between walls and drain pipes. Rats are also reasonably good swimmers and have been known to enter premises through the water-traps of the toilet bowl.
Why do we need to control rats and mice?
There are three main reasons rodents must be controlled:
- They can transmit many diseases to humans, including salmonella (food poisoning) and Weil’s disease (see below)
- They contaminate food and food preparation surfaces
- They cause damage by gnawing woodwork, water pipes and electric cables (which can cause house fires).
This is a serious and sometimes fatal infection that is transmitted to humans by contact with urine from infected rats. The infection can get into the human body through cuts and scratches and through the lining of the mouth and eyes after contact with infected urine or contaminated water.
Anyone who is exposed to rats or comes into contact with canal and river water is at risk.
To prevent disease from rodents:
- Do not touch rodents with unprotected hands. Waterproof gloves should be worn when handling anything which may have been in contact with rodents.
- All cuts and broken skin should be covered with waterproof plasters.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any animal or any contaminated clothing and especially before eating, drinking or smoking.
- All utensils and surfaces with which rodents may have had contact should be thoroughly washed and disinfected
How can I prevent rat and mice infestation?
The smallest scraps of food or liquid are attractive to hungry mice. To avoid attracting mice into your home:
- Keep your home in good repair; rats only need a gap of 15mm to access buildings
- Remove potential nesting sites by keeping yards and gardens clean and tidy, free of food and waste, and by cutting back overgrown areas
- Wash kitchen surfaces before and after preparing food and clean up any left-over mess
- Sweep and mop all food and liquids from the floor regularly • Keep food stored in air tight containers
- Empty bins regularly
- Ensure drain covers are in place and in good repair
- Seal gaps around heating and water pipes
- Ventilation bricks and slots should already have a fine wire mesh protection. If this is Worn, replace it externally with 3.15mm insect mesh.
- do not leave household waste where mice and / or rats can get to it, close dustbin and composter lids
- If you have a compost heap position it on a hard surface such as on open jointed Bricks, paving slabs or a fine steel mesh which will allow the liquids to drain away.
- Secure any gaps beneath your external buildings such as sheds and garages with galvanised wire mesh
How will I know if I have rats or mice?
You may not actually see any rats or mice, but you will almost certainly see the traces they leave:
Rat holes are about 80mm in diameter and are usually found outside in compost heaps, under sheds, in hedge banks and similar places. Inside buildings the rat makes nests in wall cavities or under floor boards. The house mouse is generally a pest found only inside buildings. Mouse holes are easily distinguishable by their smaller size, about 20mm in diameter.
Runs and Smears
Rats and mice tend to use certain routes regularly when they travel to and from their nesting sites, and so create pathways or “runs”. Indoors on hard surfaces the runs are less clearly defined, but become marked in places by black greasy smears.
The number of droppings, their position and age may help to identify where rats and mice are abundant, and where they are moving and feeding. Common rat droppings are between 10 and 20mm long and often found in runs. Mice droppings are like very small rat droppings, about the size of a grain of rice.
Signs of damage
Signs of damage include gnaw marks, half-eaten food and damaged packing. The more rodents there are, the more damage you will expect to see.
How can I get rid of rats and mice?
Rats and mice are adaptable, highly mobile and breed rapidly to produce large infestations. This can make their control difficult for the untrained individual. Southwark Council offer a wide range of affordable pest treatment options for Southwark residents.
Fees start at £29.04 for a call out charge or £16.68 if you are in receipt of benefits.
Our pest control team works Monday to Friday from 8am – 6pm and Saturdays from 8am – 4pm
If you’re a council tenant this service is free of charge for common pests. For all other residents this service is chargeable. We recommend that, if you do not qualify for the council’s free service, you employ the services of a reputable pest control contractor approved by the British Pest Control Association – www.bpca.org.uk.
However, if you decide to carry out the work yourself most garden centres, hardware shops and large chemists will stock a range of poisons and mouse traps. It is very important to follow the instructions carefully.
there are two main options, poison or break back traps:
Poison (rodenticide) should be put in a safe and secure place out of reach of children and pets and always wash your hands after use. Rodenticide can take 4 to12 days to take effect, and may result in a localised foul smell due to the presence of carcasses.
Warning: When using any pesticides always follow the instructions on the label. Remember that pesticides may be harmful to other animals. The use of bait boxes can restrict other animals accessing rodenticide. Do not put rodenticide on your bird table.
Break-back traps should be placed next to walls where rats tend to travel. The trap should be baited with chocolate, biscuit or cereal. Most rats are wary of new objects placed in their environment and will avoid them for a period of time. So do not set the spring on the trap until bait has been eaten then re-bait and reset the trap. Use several traps and examine them daily, removing dead rats as soon as they are discovered. All traps should be handled with care and placed so that household pets and children cannot access them.
If after two weeks of self-treatment there is still evidence of rodent activity you should employ the services of a reputable pest control contractor.
To report pests in your property please call Southwark Council Pest Control on 020 7525 2600 or 0800 952 4444. Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.
If you have a live Rat inside your property, call us immediately on 020 7525 2000