The main species in the UK is the Common Rat [Rattus norvegicus], also known as Sewer, Brown or Norway rat. Historically the Black Rat [Rattus Rattus], responsible for the Bubonic Plague, was the dominant species but is now rare and confined to port areas.

The Common Rat is widely distributed and abundant and occurs both indoors and outdoors. They are rodents and have a single pair of incisor teeth in the upper and lower jaws that grow continuously.

They have a need to gnaw in order to control the growth of these teeth and to maintain their sharpness. Given an edge on which to bite rats can gnaw through wood, plastic/UPVC, and soft metals such as lead and even aluminium.

Rats grow to approx. 270mm, taking approx 10-12 weeks between birth and sexual maturity. Lifespan is approx. 9-18 months. The female has up to 6 litters in her lifetime. Rats can enter buildings both above ground and below it, often entering via defective drains, sewers or pipes.

Apart from the damage that rats can cause by gnawing through pipes, cables and building fabric they are also carriers of a number of harmful diseases and food borne illnesses including Salmonella, Weils Disease (Leptospirosis), E-Coli, Campylobacter-Entiritis and Shigella (Dysentry).

Their droppings and fur poses a significant hazard of contamination of food products and food preparation and storage areas. Because they are incontinent they also urinate everywhere they go.

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