Have the rising numbers of rodents across the capital affected the saleability of your London property? As estate agents, something we look for in a property are signs of pests. Along with us, something you may of noticed over the last year is increased sightings of rats. And many newspaper reports of rats invading homes during lockdown. This is especially true of properties left empty in urban areas like London due to Covid. But why is this happening and does it mean that the amount of rats is increasing?
Has the London rat population risen during lockdown?
Rats in the UK are a serious problem. Some London pest experts estimate that there are millions of these rodents living amongst us. These rats mostly live in cities and other urban areas. As you can imagine, the London rat population is the largest. In fact, it’s estimated that an astounding 20 million rats live in the capital. This is followed by Birmingham, where there are estimated to be 2.4 million rats. On the other hand, Cardiff has far fewer rats, with only 760,000 residing in the Welsh capital.
But the real question is this: has lockdown caused these numbers to increase? According to some pest control businesses the answer is yes. Many pest control firms have seen a marked increase in calls related to rats. One of these companies actually managed to increase their profits by 33% during the pandemic. And according to the British Pest Control Association, it’s members have seen a 51% rise in rodent activity. Other pest associations claim there are now millions more rats in 2020 than there were in 2019.
But why has the London rat population risen so dramatically? There are many reasons. One of these is because rats now have a greater resistance to rat poisons. They have, in effect, built up an immunity to rat poisons. Pest control experts also claim that the increase in rats is due to the lockdown. You see, it’s not that the London rat population has actually increased, it’s simply that rats are more visible.
Are rats more visible in lockdown?
Rats are normally nocturnal and only come out at night to feed, breed, and build their nests. They hide in drains and sewers and usually take every care to avoid humans. This because an encounter with humans often results in death.
The issue is that because businesses are closed and streets are empty, these pests are now becoming braver. There is no longer anyone to chase them away. This means rats are moving into places they would not have previously dared to venture. Places like empty businesses, parks and buildings are now being plagued with rats.
Another reason why the London rat population seems to have risen is because rats are struggling to find food. Most rats scavenge from the bins behind pubs and restaurants. With these businesses being closed, there is nowhere for rats to find food. Many rats also feed from public dustbins, but these are now virtually empty because everyone is at home.
These two factors combined means that the London rat population has reached a breaking point. They are virtually starving and having to come out of their hiding places and desperately search for food. Rats that would have previously only come out of night, are wandering around during the day. This is essentially the reason why it seems as if there has been an increase in rats during lockdown. It’s not only because there has actually been a rise in the number of rats. It’s simply that rats are now more visible due to the lack of available food. As lockdowns ease, you can expect these vermin to go back to their subterranean hiding places.