Having rats running riot in the city is not only uncool, it’s a reason to be concerned! Rats are associated with various diseases, occasionally bite and will also contaminate food, leaving it unfit for human consumption. Once rats have gained access to your property, these destructive pests can cause serious damage by gnawing on doors and woodwork. They can even spoil electrical wiring, which could lead to a fire hazard and damage to alarm systems.
The South African Pest Control Association recently confirmed that there has been an increase in the number of enquiries and call-outs for the treatment of rats. The inner city areas of some of our main cities have suffered from unusually high levels of rat infestations. According to Deena Govender, Quality Assurance Manager of Rentokil, the problem was first noticeable in the CBD and informal settlements, and has now worsened, with residential areas also noticing an increase in the number of rodents seen in homes, gardens and nearby parks.
Budget cuts in municipal resources, littering, an increase in the number of informal traders in both city centres and suburban areas, lower sanitation standards in city centres and poor upkeep of basic amenities are some of the causes cited for rats finding our cities and suburbs more and more appealing.
So what can homeowners do to keep rats out of their neighborhood? When dealing with a serious rat infestation, it is best to get a qualified pest control operator to put an integrated pest management plan in place to effectively treat the problem and prevent further infestations. This includes preventing rodents from gaining access through cracks or broken pipes. Overhanging trees should be pruned to prevent rodents entering through the roof. When rat-proofing your home, make sure to keep all household refuse in bins with tight-fitting lids. Remove garden refuse regularly to ensure that this does not provide food and harbourage for rats. A reputable pest control company will only use rodenticides as a last course of action, and only after food, harbourage and access have been denied and taking into account additional factors such as young children, pets and other wildlife in the area.
Govender warns that rat infestations should be treated sooner rather than later, because the population can increase at a rapid pace. Young are born about 22 days after mating and are sexually mature by three months. Depending on the type of species, a female rat can have as many as eight to 12 offspring per litter and up to seven litters per year.
For more information, visit www.rentokil.co.za