Pest control service

Advice on rats

To book Opkill call 0800 980 4142 - when calling, let the member of staff know you are a resident of Lichfield District - ant treatments cost £66 (inc VAT). This service is free if you can provide documentation that shows you receive one of the following benefits: employment & support allowance (income related), job seekers’ allowance (income related), universal credit (income related) or income support.

There is a one working day response time* (providing Opkill can access your property). Opkill will need a minimum of minimum of two visits and a maximum of four.

* Due to a much larger number of calls this summer (2019) for wasps, there may be a temporarily delay in treatment.

An out of hours service is available for cases that pose a serious and urgent threat to health, which costs an extra £3.

About rats

First recorded in the early 18th century the common rat (also known as the Norway, sewer or brown rat) is found in abundance throughout the UK. More common than its relative the Black rat (Rattus rattus) the common rat lives in both urban and rural areas thriving off human habitation.

They are rodents, brownish/grey on the back and grey underneath. Their average weight is 335g and they are 300-450mm long.

Like all rats, they are nocturnal, although they are sometimes seen during the day. They must continually gnaw to wear down their teeth.

They are active burrowers, good climbers and reasonably good swimmers (often leading to confusion with water voles). They have poor eyesight and are colour blind but they have a good sense of smell and taste and acute hearing.

Rats are capable of reproducing at 3-4 months old, and can have 3-6 litters per year, depending on food availability and harbourage. The litter size can be around 6-11 young, with a lifespan of between 12-19 months.

Their diet is extremely broad - they will eat almost anything that is edible, with a food preference for grain. They eat more meat than the black rat, and if they get the opportunity, they will eat carrion and will prey on other animals. They can also be cannibalistic. On average, they consume 25-30g of food and drink approximately 60ml of water per day.

They contaminate everything they encounter with droppings, urine and hairs. They carry a wide range of diseases and parasites that are potentially harmful to humans and animals. Leptospirosis, or Weil's disease, can be fatal to humans. Other diseases, such as toxoplasmosis and salmonella, affect both humans and animals.

Rats may get into a property in several ways. One route is from sewers via a defective drain. This may be prevented by ensuring that any breaks in the drain or sewers are repaired promptly. Guards can be fitted to the top of rain or vent pipes.

By pruning back climbing plants which grow on sides of houses to below the window-sill line and repairing structural damage.

Another significant problem is the considerable structural damage that can occur due to the gnawing and burrowing behaviour of these rats.

To prevent the spread of the rats, high standards of refuse collection and cleanliness must be maintained. Therefore:

  • Remove accumulations of rubbish.
  • Tidy up stored materials and locate them away from food areas.
  • Keep food in rodent proof containers and dispose of spilled food.
  • Ensure any building where food is kept is proofed against rodents by blocking any holes in walls, floors and doors and filling in gaps around entry points of services. 
  • Keep vegetation around buildings short and tidy to expose rat runs and burrows, making rats more vulnerable to predators (in fact, encouraging predators, particularly cats, may provide additional protection). 

Despite good standards of hygiene and proofing, infestations will sometimes occur. Methods of control include trapping and chemical control using fumigants or rodenticide baits. Please remember that rodenticides are also poisonous to humans, livestock, pets and wildlife. Always read the product label before use and follow the label instructions.

Control should always be carried out together with preventative measures otherwise the underlying causes of the infestation remain and re-infestation will inevitably occur.

If you intend to carry out your own treatment, read the label of the pesticide container and follow the instructions carefully.