RESIDENTS on a Newquay street have found themselves battling a rat infestation, with pest control experts warning more needs to be done to combat an alarming rise in the rodents’ numbers.
People living on Shackleton Drive say that they have been plagued with giant rats, and are worried that the super-sized vermin are becoming increasingly bold.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, said he had been forced to put down rat traps around his property to address the problem.
“I’m not happy with the situation,” he said. “I have a daughter who’s 7 and she’s seen dead rats in the garden. She’s quite a girlie girl so she doesn’t like them at all.
“They are massive: really big for a rat. Some of the cats that live further up the road would think twice about going after one.”
He claimed a new housing development – Trevenson Meadows – may have disturbed the habitats of local wildlife, and speculated that it could be responsible for the influx of vermin into the neighbourhood.
“Since there’s been this development across the road I’ve had to get rat traps now. We never used to have them.
“It’s destroyed their habitat. Now the marshland has gone they’ve had to find somewhere else to live. And it’s not just rats; we’re seeing more foxes and badgers coming in. It’s really disrupted local wildlife.”
Since 2011 Cornwall Council no longer provides a free pest control service for domestic premises, although by law it has a duty to ensure occupiers of land keep it free of rats and mice.
Since Cornwall Council scrapped the free service the number of rats being reported by the public across Cornwall has increased by almost 50 per cent.
The figures from Cornwall Council show complaints went up from 206 in 2012-2013 to 304 between 2013-2014.
The council also has powers to ensure people take steps to deal with the infestation, but residents on Shackleton Drive said it was unfair to expect them to pay for pest controllers: “We’re not the source of the problem; they’re coming in from elsewhere. We don’t put out bird food and all our rubbish is in wheelie bins, which we had to pay for.”
Dave Cornish, of D Cornish Pest Control, works around the whole of Cornwall, and said that since Cornwall Council stopped funding the service he has been getting more reports of rats.
Despite this, he said business had not picked up because the majority of people were not prepared to pay for professional help.
“They’re not going to go away if you ignore them,” he said. “The only way realistically is to get a professional pest control company to sort it out.
“There’s a lot of legislation with traps; by law they’ve got to be checked twice a day, and people don’t know how to put poison down properly and put it in the wrong places. A lot of people chuck it down and you find dead birds. It can be harmful to pets too.”
Mr Cornish said the best way to prevent a rat infestation is to keep lids on rubbish bins, and to sweep up excess bird food every night.
“If people don’t address the problem in another two or three years we’re going to be overrun with rats,” he said.
Giant rats are getting a lot of press lately in other areas of the country. Pest Pro have been carrying out pest control in Newcastle and Sunderland for over 15 years and we have never come across a giant rat. Certainly we have seen rats larger than the norm, but never a giant rat. If yo come across a giant rat and would like a local pest control firm to come and deal with it in a professional manner please contact Pest Pro using our contact us page here.