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  • Writer's picturePGM & SON Pest Control

Pest Trumps - The Rat 101

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Introducing The Rat!

This week we are excited to carry on with our series of "Pest Trumps" at PGM & SON Pest Control Services with The Rat.

Each file is available for free download, and you may use them at work to help identify pests for the protection of your workers and customers. The PGM "Pest Control Trumps" set of information cards were created to assist with pest-related issues in the UK and to ensure the public are armed with the correct information about each pest we highlight in our pest trump series.

By proactively promoting an integrated pest management approach, we can protect people and food as well as wildlife and the environment. We all have an important part to play in educating the public and business that prevention is better than cure. At PGM & SON we know stewardship and sustainability are critical both to the survival of the pest control industry and to our planet.

Pest Trumps The Rat PGM & SON V.1 (1)
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Aside from the wasp, probably the most well-known pest in the UK – the Rat! There are two main rat species in the UK, the most common is Rattus Norvegicus also known as the brown rat. The other is Rattus Rattus which is commonly known as the black rat or ship rat although these are now rarely seen in the UK. Rats are disease carriers and spreaders and so considered a public health risk.


Historically, the harsh winter climate in the UK was a natural way of culling the rodent population but with milder climates the rat population in the UK has grown. There are an estimated 150 million rats in the UK so if you haven’t seen one, you’re in the minority.

If you own a property, you have a legal obligation to keep premises rodent free, or if there is a threat to health or property, to report it to the local authority.


The rat’s greatest strength is in their teeth. They can gnaw through just about anything – wood, glass, metal, bone – you name it they can chew it! This means they can cause significant damage to property with their gnawing which can result in structural damage and other significant issues such as fire and flood risk when they chew through electrical cables and pipes.


Rats score very highly in the breeding category. In fact, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) awards them a gold medal when it comes to breeding! A female rat can reproduce every 6 weeks and her litters can produce 6-8 babies. Each part of the cycle takes an average of 21 days. A rat can become pregnant very quickly after giving birth so a rat infestation can very rapidly grow out of control. New-borns sexually mature after just 5 weeks when they can also start to produce babies. This means that a pair of brown rats could produce up to 200 babies and 2,000 descendants in just one year or more!


Rats are a major nuisance both in the house, business premises and garden. They burrow, gnaw, urinate, defecate, nest and generally make a mess. Their urine also produces a very nasty strong, distinctive smell which isn’t easy to get rid of.

More than being a nuisance, rats carry and spread serious disease to humans such as Weil’s disease, Salmonella and Listeria. They can also cause significant structural damage to property.

All things considered; the rat is up there as one of the UK’s most problematic pests.


Rats are also agile. Gardeners and allotment holders often report sightings of rats climbing nimbly up bird tables to reach food. They also shimmy up drainpipes and scurry through sewers and squeeze through small holes to get into places. They are good swimmers too. If the rat was entering the Olympics, it would be up for a silver medal in the triathlon!


Although not as essential as other pests we’ve reviewed in this series, nevertheless rats are an important part of balancing our ecosystem. They provide a food source for other predatory animals. Also, they are opportunistic scavengers and will happily clear up the food we throw away.

RATS SUPERPOWER - Highly Advanced

Rats are highly adaptable and developed. They have a well-developed sense of smell and touch and an acute sense of hearing, frequently using ultrasound to communicate. They are neophobic meaning that they are wary of new objects, and they are highly mobile. All these traits how shown that rats are also capable of being trained. So, all in all, the rat is a highly developed creature.

Overall PGM Rating 2/10

The rat scores impressively in pretty much every category and we must give them credit for that. But we’ve given them an overall low rating due to their risk to public health. The rat is widely regarded as the UK’s most problematic pest, most often described as vermin and has been seen as this throughout history. Even going back to the 14th and 17th centuries rats were blamed for the Black Death plague that swept Europe although recent studies suggest that they might not have been responsible.

Pest Trumps - RATS 101


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