Everywhere that people live in buildings, rats live too. In many places, including here in Britain, the most common kind of rat is the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). In different settings the rat is a charming pet (sometimes bred in different colours), a useful lab animal (usually bred to be white) or a disease-carrying pest. You can follow my ‘rat’ tag for more about this animal.
When you have a rat problem in your buildings or on your land, here’s some advice about how to get rid. You can reduce your risk of getting a rat problem by not leaving food lying about. But that means being careful how you compost and it probably means not feeding wild birds. Cats might help, but not much. Live trapping might help too but where are you going to release the rats? Sadly, rat poison is sometimes part of the solution.
Louise Gray at the Telegraph tells us about the ‘second generation’ of rat poisons. These poisons aren’t new – they’ve been in use for decades.
But now, our British Government’s Health and Safety Executive is being very cautious. Ms Gray says that the second-generation poisons aren’t to be used within 5m of buildings. She tells us how several groups of people think this rule is too cautious.
This doesn’t sound very sensible, does it? So much caution about second-generation pesticides to kill rats. So little caution about neonicotinoid pesticides to protect crops while – oops – killing bees.
Last year, when we had floods, rats were on the move. It’s likely to happen again. That’s no joke, partly because rats sometimes carry leptospirosis. That’s a zoonotic disease, meaning that rats can give it to people. It’s also called Weil’s disease. Ms Gray misspelled that name (‘vial’s disease’), so I wonder whether she’s ever encountered it. I hope not. Weil’s disease is the main reason why you don’t want to get bitten by a wild rat. You don’t want your children to get bitten either. And you don’t want rat pee on your skin if you’ve any cuts.
If the caution about ‘second-generation’ rat poisons is indeed too much caution, we might see people getting Weil’s disease. I hope we won’t.