| 12.5°C Dublin

Warning over rat epidemic for winter

THE hot summer could lead to a rodent-filled winter, it has been claimed.

Unfortunately it wasn't just sun-seekers that enjoyed the warmest July since records began, sparking fears that a record number of rats and mice will emerge in the coming months.

Experts said vermin breed more during warm weather and the abundant crop this year means there was more food for them to thrive on. Households have been warned to be vigilant to protect their properties from infestation as the weather turns colder.

Dr Colm Moore of Rentokil said many households can make simple adjustments to keep rodents out.

He explained: "Seal any holes and fit bristle strip around doors – young rats can get through holes of less than 1cm.

"Use steel wool or caulk, not wood, plastic or expanding foam that they can gnaw through."

Along with obvious advice like storing food properly, keeping bins closed and ensuring pipes are in good order, Dr Moore said clutter should be kept to an absolute minimum "to reduce the options for nesting sites and remember that dirty, messy areas can attract pests".

He added: "Rats pose a more significant health risk to humans and pets; common diseases carried by rats include Salmonella, Weil's disease, E.coli and TB.

"Rats also carry fleas, mites and ticks and can cause acute allergic reactions."


The warning comes after reports in Britain suggested that mutant rats, immune to traditional poisons, are on the rise. Although they look exactly like normal rats, the new breed can eat toxic pellets and powders with immunity.

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield tested a group of the vermin and found three out of four had built up resistance to the poisons.

Richard Moseley of the British Pest Control Association said: "They eat poison like feed – you might as well be leaving out grain for them."