Pest Control in January
January is definitely the month of rats, as the weather cools life becomes harder for all the rodent species: rats, mice and squirrels and as the rats are extremely intelligent and resourceful they gain entry to properties all over the Bracknell area.
Equipped with teeth that are harder than iron rats will gnaw through plastic air bricks and even grind away brick and concrete given enough time, as well as the teeth they have powerful leg muscles and will burrow to a depth below 1 metre. This may be deep enough to gain access where the water pipes - fresh water in and waste water out run through the underground part of the walls of a building.
No matter where they get in there are two places that they will head - definitely the loft and into the kitchen.
Cavity walls and service ducts lead upwards to the loft; warm in winter from rising heat and with plenty of insulation and occasionally stored items to nest in the loft makes an ideal home for the cold months.
Kitchens may have redundant pipe holes in the walls: when a new kitchen is fitted the installation may require a new route for the waste water, not many kitchen fitters block off the old redundant holes as they don't realise the need. Rats will be able to squeeze through a gap the size of the nail bed on your thumb.
Here at Bracknell Pest Control we survey the property before we commence any rat control activity; this may lead us straight to the entry point and we will then set traps. Trapping rats confirms what we think in means of the access route and by physically removing the animal we prevent the use of poison and it dying under the floorboards.
Once we have the access point sorted we seal this with concrete and continue to trap ensuring that all rats have been caught and you are now free from infestation - Integrated Pest Management in action.
How do rats get into my loft?
Rats are extremely agile animals and are capable climbers, there are times when plants like ivy or wisteria have pushed apart roof tiles and rats and mice will climb up this frame and enter at height. Rats are more than capable of climbing a rough brick wall and entering through an redundant hole in the brickwork - we sometimes find that hidden behind ivy is an old toilet overflow pipe hole; modern toilets overflow through the centre of the cistern and the waste water rather than running down the outside of the house now discharges straight down the toilets U-bend.
Another way for rats to enter the loft is to access the cavity wall if the house has one - if you live in a house built after the 1920's or with an extension from within that period you'll have a cavity wall. This means that there is an outer skin and an inner skin held together with metal 'ties', this gap or void leads down to the footings and up to the loft, so you can see that anything getting into this gap is straight up into the loft.
I have a problem with my drains so how do they get into my loft from there?
Rats are adapted to live underground and in the aquatic environment; if ever you see a rat swimming they use their powerful back legs and their tail to push themselves through the water. Rats often get into houses via the sewer, they will exploit any breaks or redundant sections to access the exterior of the drainage pipes.
These pipes pass through the walls of the property underground, as they need space to flex in and as you can't just load concrete or bricks on top they pass through a built opening that passes through the cavity wall. If the rats can't get out of the 'system' then all is good but once a rat finds a way through a broken pipe or through the walls of an inspection pit then they will follow the pipeline; in it's void area and enter the cavity wall.
I can hear rats gnawing on things in the loft, what are they doing up there?
Rats like to gnaw on objects, this is part of their territorial marking - sometimes people say that they gnaw to wear their incisor teeth down as these will keep growing but rats have teeth harder than iron. Gnawing on plastic pipes in a loft isn't going to file the teeth down; they do this themselves by grinding the lower teeth against the upper set, owners of pet rats call this bobbling.
Rats are destructive animals and gnaw just about anything; I think it's texture related as their teeth are an important sensory organ - have you ever watched someone popping bubblewrap? Rats seem to love gnawing on pipe insulation in lofts, this material is a robust foam rubber and we 'll see metres and metres stripped off, the material is so soft that it can't have any effect on their teeth so it must be a sign of enjoyment.
Over time rats can seriously weaken wooden joists through repeated gnawing, electrical wiring is prone to attack by both rats and mice and we often see in twin and earth wiring all three copper wires exposed but no dead rat. A modern invention is Hep2O plastic water pipes and we have had major issues where a rat has gnawed straight through a mains pressure water pipe overnight - don't delay in getting out a pest controller if you've discovered rats in your loft.