RAT and mouse infestations have surged during lockdown as rodents move from shut pubs and restaurants to home invasions for food.
Insurance company Aviva found a 42 percent increase in rat infestations during lockdown for pest control service JG Pest Control.
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The rise, calculated by comparing January-March call-outs with last year’s April-June call-outs, has been blamed on reduced bin collections and closed pubs and restaurants forcing them to scavenge for food elsewhere.
Between the lockdown period of March to June, the company saw a total 120 percent increase in rodent-related call-outs compared with the same period in 2019.
The number of residential rodent cases for the first half of 2020 was equivalent to 90% of comparable cases for the whole of 2019, the figures show.
Aviva’s head of general insurance insights Sarah Applegate said: “There are a number of possible reasons behind the rise of rodents.
“Reduced bin collections may have led to new food sources for pests at people’s homes.
“Similarly, rats and mice who were used to finding food near to pubs and restaurants may have had to look elsewhere while commercial outlets were closed.
“Or there’s the chance that people may have just become more aware of mice and rats because they’ve been at home and have been able to spot them – when they might ordinarily have been at work or school.
“Most home insurance policies do not cover rodent infestations as part of their standard terms. However there are specialist policies available and certain add-ons which provide cover.
“For example, Aviva Home Emergency cover provides expert help with emergencies including pest infestation of rats, mice, wasps or hornets. If you’re in any doubt as to whether you’re covered, it’s best to check with your provider.”
Rat catcher Martin Kirkbride, from Openshaw, Manchester, told The Telegraph he had witnessed a surge in cases in recent weeks.
He said: “They live with us and are here because of us. The more people there are, the more food there is for the rats.”
Meanwhile Professor Steven Belmain, who works at the Natural Resources Institute in Greenwich, described how rodents were now seeking new feeding sites and moving into residential areas.
He told The Telegraph: “What is happening is they are moving into residential areas and finding food sources there, so deciding to make it home.”
In June, the British Pest Control Association revealed more than half of UK rat catchers had seen a surge in complaints about infestations since the beginning of lockdown.