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Guide to tackling rats

10 February 2020

A national trade body has warned the food sector to be on guard as milder winters drive a rise in rats. 

An estimated 20% of the global food supply is damaged by rodents every year – at an annual cost of more than £11 billion.

British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has published a new online guide which highlights the signs and dangers of an infestation.

The guide explores the lifecycle and habits of rats, as well as giving tips on avoiding infestation and sign-posting food sector companies to professional pest control.

Dee Ward-Thompson, technical manager at BPCA, said: “In the past, harsh winters were a natural method of culling rodent numbers. Milder winters in recent years have helped rat populations thrive, which is where professional pest control comes in.”

Rats represent a significant public health risk as they urinate wherever they go. They can spread diseases including Salmonella and Weil’s disease to humans when they – or their urine – come into contact with food preparation areas.

The problems associated with rats are not just limited to public health. They can also cause structural damage. Ward-Thompson explained: “Rats have to gnaw in order to keep their teeth in shape, and they’re not shy about what they gnaw on. Common ‘gnaw-spots’ include the sheathing around electrical cables, which present a significant fire risk, and pipes, which is likely to result in leaks, both water and gas.

The online guide is available at

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