Warning as rats face big freeze

PUBLISHED: 11:36 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 11:27 04 May 2010

RAT RUN: Health officers Claire Finlayson and John Tanswell visit an area of Soham which has become a rat hot spot.
Picture: SUPPLIED.

RAT RUN: Health officers Claire Finlayson and John Tanswell visit an area of Soham which has become a rat hot spot. Picture: SUPPLIED.

HEALTH chiefs are warning East Cambridgeshire residents to prepare for an invasion of rats following a prediction from weather experts of a long spell of severe freezing weather. The warning comes after a long-range weather forecast shows a prolonged per

HEALTH chiefs are warning East Cambridgeshire residents to prepare for an invasion of rats following a prediction from weather experts of a long spell of severe freezing weather.

The warning comes after a long-range weather forecast shows a prolonged period of Arctic weather heading for Britain.

The last time this type of weather hit the UK it brought a major plague of rats to thousands of households in or near open countryside as they sought shelter from the freezing cold.

Now health officers at East Cambridgeshire District Council are advising householders to prepare for another onslaught of rats.

Claire Finlayson, council environmental health officer, said: "We are anticipating an upsurge in rats being spotted in gardens once this predicted cold weather sets in and begins to bite, especially around specific rat hot spots which, due to the increase in the number of rat sightings already reported to us, appear to fit all the 'desirable rat residence' criteria. "We will be leafleting homes and businesses in any areas which have experienced severe rat problems, with advice on how to reduce the risk of infestation by taking precautions to keep the rats out."

The council is advising householders to make sure there is no access to any cavities beneath their homes or outbuildings or into the house itself, and that all waste food is kept in a secure place rather then left lying around in black plastic sacks.

Ms Finlayson said that another factor drawing rats to houses is that during cold weather people like to put out food for birds and that this, too, can attract them. She suggested that if people want to feed wild birds in their gardens then they should do so from wire bird feeders, as putting bird food on the ground is an invitation to rats.

Ms Finlayson said: "Normally rats do not cause a problem for people as they tend to scavenge in the fields and hedgerows. It is only in severe weather that they start to move into human territory. If peoplethey can be kept at bay until the weather turns warmer.

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