Covid -19 viral outbreak has had a major impact across all towns and cities in the United Kingdom, this includes our town, Bracknell. 
As a result, we have all seen people’s behaviour change as a result of the lockdown and the restrictions presented to us. With social distancing and only being able to go out for essential food and exercise, we have seen minimal human presence on the streets around Bracknell, which in turn with the closure of food and hospitality outlets has resulted in a massive reduction of food supply for rats and other pests, it has been well reported that this has seen a change in behaviour for rats meaning they are venturing into broad daylight in search for food. 
As mentioned the fact that the hospitality industry has been hit hard by the closures and the huge decrease in the opportunity for us to purchase takeaways, visit pubs and restaurants, means the amount of waste which the rats scavenge in Bracknell has literally reduced overnight. With little food waste to eat rats are resorting to desperate measures and this is pushing them to search for food and invade our homes. 

Rats on the rise across Bracknell due to the Covid-19 outbreak 

The recent pandemic has seen panic buying and people are storing an excess of food products that they often do not have room to store reasonably securely giving easy access for the rats. Many of Bracknell Pest Control customers are astounded that having never experienced a rat infestation previously and are now reporting a real problem in their homes. 
In order to understand the current rat problem, we are facing in Bracknell we need to look at rat behaviour and what drives it. Rats live-in well-established colonies with alpha males being the dominant and first to feed, there is a clear pecking order when it comes to feeding and the smaller male rats and females taking a back seat even when there have been disputes within the group. These disputes occur as a result of a dwindling food supply and we will see fighting within the colony resulting in some deaths and the remaining rats cannibalising those that have perished, other rats will leave the colony and this is where we start to see a rise in activity and an increase in number of callouts in Berkshire. 
Rats are intelligent and if they detect the presence of a food source almost nothing will deter them from trying to attempt to get at it. There are of course preventative steps we can take to reduce the opportunity for them to access our homes; such as repairs to rotten door frames, filling mortar holes and damaged brickwork. Sealing gaps to garage doors amongst many other things, rats can access our buildings through a hole the size of thumb, expanding foam will not hold them back, they have the ability to gnaw through this as if it were butter. 
Drain access and cavity walls are a common access point for these creatures and will enter via sewers and access our lofts via the cavity walls. These can be complex scenarios and may require a drain survey in order to establish if indeed there is a fault with a drainage system. Bracknell Pest Control have the facility to undergo a basic drain survey as part of the treatment if needed, in some situations the local water authority or specialist drain company may need to be involved in some way. 
Rats have three basic needs, food, water, and harbourage. Once inside your dwelling they will be driven to investigate a source for all these requirements not just the initial access point, therefore you may experience scratching or gnawing sounds around the building and within walls. 
As pest controllers we come across many different experiences when dealing with infestations some more obvious than others and some far more complicated to treat, we look for evidence and therefore we survey the building and environment before starting treatment. 
Example: One of our technicians recently attended a house in Bracknell where the customer had discovered a live rat in a box left on the upstairs hallway. The access point had clearly been a door to the cellar, the rat had gnawed through the door to make it’s route through to the kitchen, then through the under stairs cupboard and up into the airing cupboard on the first floor. The evidence that we found to support this was fresh droppings on the route and gnawing of floorboards and joists. The rat, having been driven by the smell of food was drawn to the box that had previously contained Easter eggs, the rat had either used the box to hide in or was anticipating food within it. 
The social lockdown in Bracknell and across the UK is set to continue for some time and we need to take action ourselves to prevent an infestation where possible. This is important, we need more than ever to ensure our household hygiene and the proofing of our homes and businesses reduces the chance of inward migration of rats. 
Rat on a toilet
WebMD has a current article detailing how long Covid 19 can live on different surfaces, up to several days in many instances. There is also a theory that patients with the virus have been found to have infection in their faeces, this in turn could contaminate sewers and potentially be carried by rats on their fur, tail, and feet. 
What can we do to help ourselves and reduce the risk of rat infestation in Bracknell? 
• Firstly, stay safe and stay well – remember social distancing is crucial 
• Remember to follow government guidelines with respect to handwashing, cleaning and barrier protection. 
• Rinse all food containers and packaging before recycling to ensure food scraps are reduced. 
• Check your home/business for gaps and access point, proof where necessary. 
• Reduce the potential of access through climbers in your garden, rats are adept climbers. 
• Talk to your neighbours at a distance, they may also be experiencing problems and likewise yours and theirs is likely to be linked, working together can be crucial. 
The change in rat behaviour is directly associated with the recent changes in our society and public activity, we need to be vigilant that rats do not adapt and target homes around Bracknell for food as newly learned behaviour. Stay safe and follow the Government guidelines and stay aware for the early signs of a rat infestation; these things are easily dealt with in the early stages. 
If you have identified or suspect you have an infestation consider calling a professional pest controller for the riddance, many people will think of this as an unnecessary cost and will decide to purchase bait from their local hardware supplier. This is unfortunately a false economy, rats in and around Bracknell have developed an immunity to these chemicals and as such what is happening is that you are just encouraging them as they see this just as food not something that will harm them. 
A professional pest controller can approach the infestation in 1 of 2 ways, straight to poison or to survey and set up a treatment plan using traps, tracking dust and a basic drain survey. As professional pest controllers we would always recommend the second option as it is the most effective, whilst not the cheapest option it is far more superior in giving our customers long term control of their and possibly their neighbours rat problem. Bracknell pest controls goal is for our customers to remain rat free, particularly in this uncertain time of being locked down and spending more time in our homes. 
Tagged as: Rats
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