In response to reports of rat sightings in this area, Test Valley Borough Council is undertaking work aimed at controlling the rodent population. Given that rats will only thrive if there is a sustained source of food, we would like to advise householders of the following precautions which can be taken to minimise the likelihood of rats being attracted into gardens.
We would like to pass on the following recommendations:
Bird feeding: Spillage from bird feeders and tables will be attractive to rats. We would recommend that birds be fed in moderation, with food not placed directly onto feeding tables or on the ground. Free standing bird feeders tend to be more difficult for rats to access than bird tables and if feeders are placed above hard-standing areas, such as a patio, they can be swept up easily. Ideally, any areas around bird feeders would be swept up regularly, for example once per day, preferably at the end of the day when birds become less active.
Household waste: To deter rodents from your household waste, please store any loose bags of waste which contain food residues in your wheeled bin, with the bin lid closed.
Storage of food in sheds and outhouses: Many sheds and outhouses will not be adequately secured against rats and mice. If you are storing food, such as fruit, vegetables and pet / bird food in outhouses, there are rodent-proof containers which can be purchased from garden centres to protect your items.
Keeping chickens: Rats will be attracted by chicken feed and will try to find weaknesses in the sides and mesh wiring of pens, or will burrow underneath the sides. Chicken pens can be protected with a strong and durable wire mesh surround (e.g. made from galvanised steel; maximum hole size 25mm) and preferably underlain with flagstones or some other kind of impenetrable base. Grain dispensers - which are designed to limit the spillage of chicken feed and stop easy access for rats - may help in cases where pens cannot be fully protected.
Outdoor pet hutches: As a degree of spillage of food from pet hutches for rabbits, guinea pigs etc. can normally be expected, we would advise residents to clear up spillages regularly, ideally once a day. Householders are also urged to check whether the hutch itself is secure against rats.
Dog mess: Dog mess can be a source of nutrition for rats. To deter the likelihood of rats being attracted into your garden it is important to clear up any mess from pets regularly.
Compost bins: Compost bins should preferably be lidded and placed on a base that will stop or deter rats getting in underneath. For example, a strong and durable mesh (e.g. made from galvanised steel with hole size not bigger than 25mm) which will allow access by worms but not rats. For further advice on how to set up compost bins and what should and should not be added to the bin, visit: www.recyclenow.com/reduce-waste/composting.
Test Valley Borough Council is undertaking an intensive treatment campaign in the area to address the recent reports of rat sightings. We would like to reassure residents that we are working with our partners to address the issue.