Many of us know the phrase and many of us use them. They are typically residential roads used by car drivers during peak periods to avoid traffic congestion.

Less familiar, are the runs made by ‘real’ rats. They use the same routes to come and go from their nesting sites and in the process create pathways. After a few times on the same route, rats develop ‘muscle memory’, allowing them to take every twist and turn automatically, creating well worn ‘runs’. If you find one in your garden, then you can be sure rats are not very far away.

Everything about the rat makes it a champion at survival and they could certainly teach Bear Grylls a thing or two. A rat can collapse its skeleton and wriggle through a hole as narrow as three-quarters of an inch and as a natural acrobat, the rat uses its tail for balance and sharp claws to help it climb straight up walls. An adult rat’s jaws are extremely powerful and can bite down with the same force as a crocodile’s jaws. Stronger than copper and lead, its teeth can easily gnaw through bone and wood. A sheet of iron or a slab of concrete is no problem at all and it will gnaw through them to get the food and the minerals they need.

Recent studies show that rat populations have been rising steadily as less severe winters have allowed them to survive and to breed for longer periods. And we would have to agree. We are receiving an increasing number of call outs to deal with rats. Garden sheds and decking, garages and compost bins all make for ideal shelter for them and, throw in an overflowing bird feeder in the garden, and it is the perfect winter residence for these wily creatures, a real red-carpet welcome. And once in the garden, it doesn’t take much for rats to find their way into peoples’ homes.

As winter takes a grip, rats find it increasingly difficult to find sufficient food and they will travel anything up to two miles in the countryside to find food, water and shelter. They feed 15-25 times a day and will consume the equivalent of 10-15% of its own body weight, the human equivalent of 30 margherita pizzas or 64 quarter pounders! Human contact with the resultant cocktail is the most frequent cause of disease transmission from rats to humans.

Rats constantly need to gnaw to wear down their incisors. These grow five inches a year and rats must keep gnawing or they will die. And it is the gnawing that can lead to problems. Once in a property, rats can cause untold damage, chewing through pipes and electrical cables which can result in water and fire damage.

Rats are more active during the night and often it is easier to spot signs of them than the actual rat itself. Tell-tale signs include droppings, gnawing, grease and smear marks. Add to the mix, scratching and scrabbling noises in the dead of night and you have the perfect ingredients for unwanted guests in your home.

This year we are celebrating 40 years helping people with their pest problems. So, if you think you have unwanted and uninvited guests, please call us today 0800 0283 703 or complete our on-line contact form.