How lockdown affects pests in Henley
Posted on 23rd November 2020 at 08:01
Rats, mice and pigeons are on the increase in Henley on Thames
We are now in another national lockdown to combat Covid-19 and we have to make changes to our ordinary day to day routines and so do pests like rats, house mice and feral pigeons. These are all resourceful pests, and they will take full advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.
What does this change to human behaviour mean for these pests?
The three pests mentioned have all adapted to live alongside us and from the food we leave lying around, they have become so used to living with us that they are happy to live literally under our feet. All of these animals had to adapt fast when their regular supply of food was suddenly cut off during the first lockdown in March, rats in particular changed their behaviour and territories to seek out and take advantage of new food supplies and opportunities that arose with that lockdown. We are now seeing the same pattern of behaviour but with a twist; winter is coming and food is scarce.
Rats and mice in Henley on Thames
When the first lockdown happened, waste food from hotels, pubs and restaurant kitchens and also from offices and commercial buildings literally stopped overnight and we saw the instant adaptation by rats as they quickly moved out from the town centres and business parks into the surrounding residential areas. Over in the town of Wokingham we were called out to a spate of separate infestations with rats getting inside domestic kitchens and lofts. All the properties affected by the rats were close to the High Street, and all this occurred within the first week of lockdown.
Click on the button to find out about the lifecycle of a rat
Rats and mice - our No 1 pests
Click on this button to find out more about the lifecycle of a mouse
Rats, house mice and feral pigeons are our top three pests and they all scavenge from the food that we throw away or leave lying around; the sad fact that for rats, mice and pigeons our waste, which is in plentiful supply, is their feast. In the case of the two rodent species that we regard as pests – rats and house mice, they will both find different ways of getting inside into homes. These pests get in either from beneath the structure using a fault within the drainage system or through the walls from the outside, the building they seek warmth and a food supply. Usually this means that they will head straight for the kitchen where they will pick up any scraps of food or they will gnaw their way into a storage cupboard feasting on the contents inside. One change of our behaviour from lockdown is that people have bought in extra food and stockpiled this wherever they can.
Rats move in when we're away
Nature abhors a vacuum so they say, and this is true in many situations – as our behaviour changed due to the lockdown so nature took advantage of the situation. We recently attended an infestation of rats living in an engine bay of a car parked in an underground carpark; the car hadn’t been used by us so the rats took advantage.
It just goes to show how adaptable and how opportunistic rats are!
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Stockpiling food leads to rat infestations in Henley
The lockdowns have caused panic buying and irrational behaviour, some people have bought a lot of extra food that they didn’t need or couldn’t store meaning that bins were fuller than normal; in a domestic setting this isn’t a problem but when you have a block of flats with a 100 plus dwellings, this has lead to overflowing bins and waste left on the floor – a great source of food for rats.
Rats are opportunists and scavengers, much of the hoarded food has been placed in sheds, lofts and garages for long term storage and these caches of food have been discovered by the rats. Dried foods like pasta, cereals and rice have all been found and attacked by rats, these rodents will translocate food; they take food from one place and leave it in another, usually a safe place out of the area. This means that rats now have access to the warm interior and a food supply to keep them going through the winter months, in a situation like this they will continue to breed right through the cold months.
We had a rat infestation in a property in Bracknell and found that the rats had ripped open cereal boxes stored in the loft; until they went up to the loft for a fresh box, the owners of the house were completely unaware that they had a problem.
Feral pigeon pests in Henley on Thames
Henley has a sizable pigeon population with the birds often finding a source of food from down by the river, well meaning people will often throw them some food when eating outside and this encourages the flock to stay in the vicinity.
Lockdown has had an effect on feral pigeons in a similar way to rats, these birds are incredibly intelligent and highly adaptable; many of the birds have left the town centre and will now be found living further out hanging about around garden bird feeders.
Combine this with the increasing usage of roof mounted solar panel systems and the pigeons now have the ideal roost and nest areas. Underneath the solar panels it’s dry, warm and safe from predators, the panels will be facing towards the south which will be the warmest part of the roof.
The pigeons build their messy nests on the support bars that sit in parallel rows, here the birds nest is protected from inclement weather and the young will be raised throughout the year. Feral pigeons do not have a breeding season , once they find somewhere suitable they will continue to raise chicks all year long, with two eggs laid each time and with around 10 broods a year, a single breeding pair soon becomes a sizeable flock.
Click on the button to find out more about the pigeons lifecycle
Autumn pest prevention in Henley on Thames
Here at Henley Pest Control we use a system called Integrated Pest Management which focuses more on preventing pest infestation than just the use of rodenticide. Our aim is to determione where the aniamls can get in and seal up those entrances.
To learn more click on the button.
Autumn is the time when pests start moving into our homes and businesses across the area, and the first thing you can do at this time of year is to clear those fallen leaves clogging drains and building up down the side of the house. The reason for this is that those leaves give rats, mice, and other rodents like shrews somewhere to hide and in the case of shrews they will live in the leaves searching for insects to eat. Any rodent is capable of gnawing through a plastic air brick and these are usually fitted just above ground level where the leaves sit. Getting rid of the fallen leaves means that you remove this cover and you can see for yourself if there is any accidental damage to the plastic or in fact, if they have already been gnawed at.
Another autumn job is to check the shed; shed’s and outbuildings are dry and relatively warm, and these make an ideal place for rodents to see out the winter. Usually this won’t be too much of a problem, but with increasing food storage in these places due to the lockdown, rats and mice will thrive on this unexpected bounty.
Both rats and mice are opportunists, they will use vegetation and climbing plants like ivy and wisteria to gain entrance to the roof of a property. The roof is built with the sole purpose of keeping out rain and they are not built with the idea of stopping access from either rats or mice. A field mouse will squeeze through a space the thickness of your little finger and a full-grown rat will squeeze through a gap the size of your thumb. All of these size spaces are present somewhere on the roof of your property and any nearby bushes or trees provide an excellent ladder for rodents to climb up and get inside the loft.
All stored food items, even dried dog food needs to be kept in a secure container if stored in a remote place like a garages or a shed; a plastic air tight box might be just the thing for keeping food dry and fresh but it offers no resistance against the jaws of a rat. Rats and squirrels are both equipped with extremely hard teeth, in fact their teeth are harder than cast iron and as these teeth continue to grow out from the root, they can wear the leading edge down and it will be replaced in a short space of time.
We have seen rats gnaw their way through a solid house brick in a drain inspection pit before, it may take time but rats will persevere and gain access eventually if they think there is an advantage. A few hours spent in the garden, the garage and your shed could save you from having a rodent infestation this autumn.
What to do if you have a rat or mouse problem in Henley on Thames
If you discover that you have a rodent or pigeon problem in Henley, don’t put off calling on a professional pest control company to come out and resolve the issue. Ideally, in the case of rodents, you want to use a company that will investigate the cause of the problem and offer a service where they can seal up the entrance point.
Many pest control companies will just want a quick fix by putting down rodenticide, and they will look to do this over two or three visits; this ‘quick fix’ straight to poison approach will not keep you rat or mouse free for long. If you have rats or mice getting inside your property, you really need to understand the situation and how they are they getting inside.
Here at Henley Pest Control our approach to rodent problems is very different, we start the treatment with a detailed investigation into the entire building and carryout CCTV drain surveys as standard to determine the entrance point for the pests. Where possible we seal up the rodents’ entrance, if the fault lies within the drains and is out of reach of our technician then we can direct you to reputable experts in the drainage repair field. Humane breakback traps are used to physically remove the dead animals and we rarely use poison, preventing the chance of leaving rotting carcases within the building.
Henley Pest Control we do pest control right!
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