Reports of rat and mouse infestations have rocketed during the coronavirus lockdown, according to analysis by an insurer.
Aviva says there has been a 42% increase in rat infestations for one company – JG Pest Control.
The increase was calculated by comparing call-outs from January to March with those between April and June.
In total, the company saw an increase of 120% in rodent-related call-outs compared with the same period in 2019.
The figures provided to the Press Association show the number of residential rodent cases for the first half of 2020 was equivalent to 90% of comparable cases for the whole of last year.
Sarah Applegate, head of general insurance insights at Aviva, said there were a “number of possible reasons” behind the rise.
“Reduced bin collections may have led to new food sources for pests at people’s homes,” she said.
“Similarly, rats and mice who were used to finding food near to pubs and restaurants may have had to look elsewhere while commercial outlets were closed.
“Or there’s the chance that people may have just become more aware of mice and rats because they’ve been at home and have been able to spot them – when they might ordinarily have been at work or school.
“Most home insurance policies do not cover rodent infestations as part of their standard terms. However there are specialist policies available and certain add-ons which provide cover.”
Tips for preventing and dealing with rodent infestations include:
- Droppings are quite easy to identify – they are about the size of a grain of rice
- Put some gloves on and pick them up – if the droppings crumble to dust, they are old; if they are soft, it is a sign they are new and there is more likely to be an active problem
- Try to find their access point – if you take off the kickboards underneath kitchen units and can see holes at the back of them, that is probably where the rodents are getting in
- Make sure your property is secure, both internally and externally
- Limit access to potential food sources – do not leave food where mice can get to it, clean thoroughly every time you cook, and do not leave any easily accessible food in the lower cupboards of your kitchen
- Act quickly as mice can breed rapidly – if you do not have home emergency or specialist cover in place, give yourself a maximum of a week to sort the problem out yourself before calling a pest control company, but get in touch with your provider as soon as you discover a problem if you do have cover
- Make sure mice do not return by blocking access points and securing bins, do not leave any food out, make sure any bird feeders are placed up high and away from entrances and make sure there is no litter around
- The advice for rats is similar, but they are much bigger and can do more damage with their gnawing teeth
- They can also pass on Weil’s disease through their urine, which can cause a high temperature, sickness and, in serious cases, shortness of breath and coughing up blood
- Focus on drainage and sewage pipes – there may not be any obvious entry points, so experts may advise that you get a drain survey done
- Rats often travel from garden to garden – given they are attracted to litter, it is important to keep your outdoor space tidy