'Nobody is immune': Pest controller speaks out on 'rat epidemic' in Leeds
A pest controller has warned Leeds residents that 'nobody is immune' to a rat epidemic which he says is sweeping the city.
Warren Peaker, 55, says the rat problem in Leeds is the worse than it has ever been during his 24 years in the business.
Warren, who lives in Swarcliffe, said: "It's unprecedented, I've never seen it like this.
"Usually around September rats and mice explode but then we get it under control and it slows down.
"That hasn't happened this year, it's kept going and going and going."
A student landlord has previously called for a 'rat levy' to tackle rat infestation in student areas such as Hyde Park and Woodhouse.
But Warren gets called out to the city centre, pubs, mansions and terraces and says the problem is affecting every area of Leeds.
With his trusty dog Minty in tow, he is catching more rats than ever in people's homes, which he puts down to a number of factors.
"It's a bit of everything," Warren said. "People littering and the bin collections aren't emptied for two weeks which doesn't help.
"But we've also had two mild winters and a good summer and now with the flooding I can't see it getting any better.
"In 12 weeks I've used 200 kilos of poison. For a one man band at this time of year, that's loads.
"It's a public health problem and people deserve to know about it."
Warren advises residents to listen out for scratching in the loft and cement over any cracks or holes surrounding pipes.
He added: "Nobody is immune. The stigma that someone thinks you're dirty when you get rats, it's just ridiculous.
"They're everywhere - Harehills, Moortown, villages, millionaire mansions. Rats don't discriminate and if they get in your house their population will just explode."
What are the signs of rats?
According to the Leeds City Council website, the signs of rats are:
- Droppings: these are cigar shaped and around 1cm in length
- Damage: rats have to gnaw constantly and as a result may cause damage to belongings, structures, pipes and electric cables
- Smears: black greasy marks maybe left by rats running over prominent objects over a long period of time
- Holes: may be seen in the garden, 5-7cm wide with a smooth, shiny entry, indicating an active burrow
How can I prevent a rat infestation?
To ensure a rat infestation in your garden does not enter your home, Leeds Council advises residents to repair any external structural faults, including:
- Gaps beneath external doors: draught excluding brush or bristle strips can be attached to the door or the threshold can be renewed or raised
- Holes surrounding pipes: these can be blocked with wire wool and then filled with cement or expanding foam
- Damaged or old air vents: vents with holes larger than 2.5cm should be replaced, repaired or covered with fine mesh, do not block the vents entirely