Is Your Business Vulnerable to a Rat Infestation This Winter?

Shropshire Council’s health protection team has issued an emergency closure order to a Threshers off-licence in Shrewsbury after a serious rat infestation was discovered. The off-licence now has to close for 21 days so the owner can deal with the infestation and proof the premises.

This got us thinking about rat infestations in businesses and the serious impact they can have. In the autumn and winter, rat infestations can become quite common as rodents head indoors looking for food and shelter.

Is your business on top of its pest control? Here’s why you need to control rats and how you can prevent an infestation in your business this autumn and winter.
Why do you need to control a rat infestation?
• Rats carry and spread some pretty nasty diseases such as Salmonella and Listeria, so they’re a risk to public health. Imagine what could happen if their urine and droppings contaminated a food preparation area on your premises.
• They can also cause property damage. Rats have been known to chew through anything from glass to metal, wood, pipes and electrical cables. This puts your business at risk of flooding, fires, and gas leaks.
• You shouldn’t forget either that as a business owner, you have a legal obligation to control pests. The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 states that you have an obligation to keep your premises rodent free. If you have a food business, there are some strict regulations you need to adhere to in the form of The Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Safety (General Hygiene Regulations) 1995. Failure to comply can result in huge fines and prosecution.
• There’s also the damage to your reputation that could occur should a rat infestation happen on your premises. Customers only need to see one rogue rodent and before you know it, there’ll be countless terrible reviews on social media and complaints to deal with. Some businesses don’t recover from serious reputational damage like that.

Why you need to act quickly to deal with a rat infestation
Rats breed fast. An average female rat can product a litter of 6-8 babies every six weeks. These little rat pups can have babies of their own after only five weeks, so you can see how quickly an infestation could occur.

How can you prevent a rat infestation in your business?
Maintain your premises
Rats can enter your premises through gaps around pipes, cables, windows, and under doors. Make sure any potential entry points are sealed with wire wool and/or cement. Remember that rats are great climbers as well, so don’t just focus on the gaps and cracks at low levels.
Don’t neglect your drains
Drains are a common point of entry for rats, so make sure your drain covers are in good repair and seal any pipes that aren’t in use.

Manage your waste
Waste attracts rats and is a common contributor to rat infestations. Here’s how to reduce the risk of your waste attracting rats:
Keep your bin lids closed and station them away from doors and windows so they don’t give rats a leg up into your property;
Make sure that food waste is sealed up as rats will be attracted by the smell;
Clean your bins regularly;
Don’t leave bags of waste piled up next to your bins.
Tackling a rat infestation
The DIY approach
Rats are hardy animals. They can survive in a lot of different environments, they move fast, and they breed quickly. This is what makes a rat infestation hard to tackle. Yes you can buy rodenticides and traps to tackle them yourself, though remember that certain poisons can’t be used in and around food preparation and service areas. Even if these methods are successful, checking traps constantly can be quite labour intensive, and if a rat is poisoned, it will often hide out and die. This can mean that you end up with the nasty smell of decomposing rat wafting around your premises. Definitely not pleasant.

The professional approach
Hiring professional pest control is the only way you can completely eradicate a rat infestation and make sure you abide by your legal obligations. Professional technicians understand rat behaviour and have access to the know-how, equipment, and products that aren’t available to the public. They know that it’s not just about getting rid of the rats you can see, it’s about getting rid of nests and proofing your business premises so the infestation doesn’t happen again.

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