• PGM & SON Pest Control

Rodent Population Surges in the UK

This week brings fresh reports of a significant increase in the rat population across the UK.

Rats are becoming immune to rodenticides

More worryingly, the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU), recent survey results highlighted that 74% of the rats they analysed carried a resistance gene.

In 2017, one rat was found to have two different resistance genes; referred to as ‘hybrid resistance’. The CRRU reported concerns that the recent survey identified 1 in 5 rats with the hybrid resistance in widespread locations across the country.

The CRRU found that ⅓ of Farmers don’t know which rodenticides they are using

The CRRU also found that only 28% of farmers claimed to know the active ingredient in the rodenticides they were using.

Why is this a problem?

Rodenticides are hazardous to non-target species. They can cause illness or death to wildlife which are exposed to their active ingredients. The public doesn’t generally hold a fondness for rats but indigenous wildlife is another matter. Rodenticides, when not used responsibly and under strict controls, can cause the death of much loved British wildlife such as barn owls, otters, field mice, voles and kestrels.

There is also a risk of accidental exposure to humans.

Rodenticides are also harmful to the environment.

The solution?

Solutions include:

  • Increased preventative pest control measures

  • Employing risk management hierarchies tailored to the sites where rat infestations are prevalent

  • Reducing wildlife exposure

  • Improved user practices

  • Periodic assessments of users’ knowledge, attitudes and practices

  • Regular surveys of exposures to wildlife and resistance in rodents

Why do we need to continue to use rodenticides?

There is an important balance to be struck. These products play an important role in food hygiene, public health and animal husbandry. Their use is essential for the protection of human and animal health and yet when used incorrectly or irresponsibly they cause widespread contamination of wildlife in the UK.

It is unacceptable to:

× Ignore obvious, non-toxic, measures that would make sites less attractive to rat infestations

× Repeatedly use rodenticides rather than addressing the root causes of rat infestations

A final message from the CRRU:

“The onus is squarely on rodenticide users to maximise their knowledge and make responsible fact-based decisions about control measures.”