Phantom rats that wont die invading UK homes as new weapons deployed

A plague of rats is feared this winter as more than nine out of 10 rodents can resist common poisons.

Pest control experts say they have been inundated with calls as the vermin seek shelter from plunging temperatures.

Some 95% of mice and 75% of rats can withstand the blood-thinning chemicals used to kill them, claims the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use.

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Chairman Alan Buckle said: “Use of anticoagulant rodenticides has serious downsides – incomplete control with consequent ongoing threats to human and animal health. It also leads to faster geographical spread of surviving resistant individuals.”

Tim Bonner, from the Countryside Alliance, said: “Farmers, gamekeepers and pest controllers are on the front line fighting a battle against the disease and damage caused by rats and mice.

“But if they are to succeed in halting a new plague of rodents, they are going to need new weapons in their arsenal, as resistance grows.”

And the British Pest Control Association said last month people were going to have to “learn to live” with the rodents.

Social restrictions lowered the supply of available food for rats, forcing them to flock to homes instead of their usual feeding places.

BPCA president Chris Cagienard said that "when our behaviour changes, rodents' behaviour changes".

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He added: “Rat populations in the UK are not reducing, they are climbing slowly anyway, and that was happening before Covid and that continues to happen.

"It wasn't necessarily that there were more rats, there were just more rats within the houses. There are a lot of products that we are starting to see resistance to.

"In certain areas of the country, these products don't have an effect anymore, so we need to be careful. Usually, a professional pest controller would be aware of this and use other products accordingly."

Do-it-yourself pest control – “where people are just buying stuff from B&Q and putting it down” – can result in greater resistance within rats.

Chris added: “Effectively, we are breeding more resistant rats because people aren't aware of the problem."

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