EXPERTS are warning about an invasion of “ultra rats” entering homes this autumn following the hot summer.
Professionals are saying that heatwaves and the abundance of food from uncollected rubbish and leftovers has provided the ideal conditions for rats to feast and breed fast.
Experts say this can result in the invasion of giant ultra-rats who can grow almost as big as rabbits.
According to scientists, rats are getting bigger as a result of their leftover energy going into body mass and growth meaning they’re also breeding more than ever.
In fact, female rats can have around 72 babies a year and these babies are ready to breed themselves within weeks.
As their usual food sources will dwindle, temperatures will drop, and since there are a lot less burrows for them to seek shelter in thanks to the drought, these unwanted pests could have their sights set on people’s homes and gardens.
Chris Bonnett, the founder of Gardening Express, said: “It is time to protect your garden, and home, now.
“When rats get hungry, they will eat virtually anything – even dog poo, so you really don’t want these randy infested ultra-rats around.
“Some of the imperative measures to take to protect yourself and your home are laying preventive scents around your home and clearing any rubbish, debris and garden waste that’s accumulated during summer.”
Here are the top tips from the experts at Gardening Express that will prevent the ultra-rats from raiding your garden and home…
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1. Check your garden for any sources of food
If you’ve got any fruit trees, bushes or veggies growing, make sure you harvest as soon as ready, and be sure to remove any windfall from the ground beneath an apple tree for example as soon as possible.
Anything you’ll be storing will need to go in a safe area that’s not open to these critters to invade.
2. Clear any rubbish, debris and garden waste that may be accumulated ready for disposal
Do not delay in getting rid of this now, rats are already on the move with families sending scouting parties out to seek their next rung on the property ladder.
3. Bird tables are notorious for attracting vermin
If you do have one and it ends up attracting them, you may have to remove it entirely so there is no source of food.
In the meantime, regularly, daily if needed, clear up and spill seed – late afternoon once birds finish feeding would be best.
Also ensure your bird table is in an open area away from shrubs, fence and walls – rats are expert climbers and will jump from a nearby tree onto it if they can.
4. Make sure there are no areas rats can easily shelter in
Is your shed or garage door closing properly?
Are there any gaps?
Consider fitting a metal kick strip to doors to prevent gnawing in, and ensure any holes are filled in and covered over.
Small young rats can squeeze through quite small holes.
5. Protect pet food
Many people store sacks of pet food in a shed, indeed anything edible should be stored in a lidded bin or bucket.
Ideally, metal, as hungry rats have a great sense of smell to hunt this out and have been known to chew through plastic containers to get at food.
I’ve even seen them gnaw the lids to buckets of commercial rat poison in a farm store shed.
6. Check your drains
Check any drain grates are intact and all drains are covered, replace them urgently if needed.
Also look around the perimeter of your house, and check any air-bricks or potential weak points for entry – take action immediately and make any repairs or replace any grates that need it right away.
7. Cut off water access
Rats will also need a source of water, so if you’ve got a dripping garden tap, water-butt or a blocked drain, again – get it sorted now.
8. Protect your compost heap
Got a compost heap? Turn it, don’t put food scraps on, and keep it wet – else the rats could view your cosy compost heap as a new 5-star hotel with room service.
It’s also worth thinking about enclosing it in chicken wire to make it less penetrable.
9. Keep an eye on your greenhouse
If you’ve got a cold-frame or greenhouse, make sure you haven’t got stacks of pots and trays languishing under the benches – these would provide perfect shelter and a fun little maze for rats to hang out in.
10. Use scents
Lay preventive scents around the perimeter of sheds and your home – rats may not venture past strong scents such as garlic powder – which can be purchased in bulk buckets online, or white vinegar.
Liberally apply around and vulnerable areas.
11. Consider traps and baits
Be prepared and invest in conventional traps and baits in case the invasion hits your garden and property – they’d be nothing worse than having a local plague attacking your precious plants, garden or shed – or worse - and find stores sold out of what you need.