Advice on how to keep rats at bay
Falling temperatures attract them into our homes - via the tiniest of gaps in a wall or roof space.
Now householders are being urged to keep the rodents away from their property this autumn by take more care with their rubbish.
Overflowing bins and bags of refuse left outside act as a strong magnet for vermin – particularly when the weather turns colder.
And the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) says those who ignore basic precautions are effectively delivering an open invitation.
Simon Forrester, chief executive of the national trade body, said: “Rats, mice and other pests are always searching for food, water and shelter during the autumn and winter and they can find all three in and around bins overflowing with rubbish.
“Rotting left-overs or half-empty food containers will attract a number of unwanted visitors if they’re not discarded carefully or if bin lids are not closed properly.
“Bin bags are even more of an issue as they’re basically a mobile home for rats – a natural warm environment with food and water supplied.
“Householders must therefore be ‘pest aware’ and mindful of what can happen by failing to take simple preventative measures.
“Everyone has a responsibility to minimise pest problems because once the source of the issue is eventually taken away, the pests will look for food and shelter elsewhere – perhaps inside the nearest home or business.”
The problem of overflowing bins is likely to become even more acute in areas where the frequency of household collections has been reduced, according to the non-profit BPCA.
Three-weekly collections have been introduced in several areas and some local authorities are even experimenting with a monthly regime.
The policy is designed to cut costs, reduce landfill and encourage recycling, but Mr Forrester insists it will lead to more problems than it solves.
He added: “Any reduction in the number of bin collections is good news for pests.
“Infestations can build up very quickly, so containers left unemptied for longer than a couple of weeks can pose a significant threat to public health.
“Councils have tough decisions to make when faced with the need to cut costs, but they must also weigh up the potential impact of reducing certain services.
“While switching to collections every three weeks or even longer might produce initial savings, it could easily lead to significant issues further down the line.
“It could create infestations that wouldn’t have otherwise happened and authorities might then have to step in to eliminate the threat to public health, simply shifting the cost elsewhere.”
Top 10 tips to keep pests away from your bins ... Always keep bins well maintained with their lids sealed properly - even small gaps create easy access for pests.
Ensure they’re kept well away from windows and doors and, if possible, out of direct sunlight to help reduce smells and decrease the rate of decomposition.
Never leave leftover food lying around and empty kitchen containers into the composting bin on a regular or even daily basis.
Never put loose food waste straight in the bin. Wrapping it in approved compostable liners, plastic bags or refuse sacks will ensure it doesn’t stick to the sides of containers and will help contain any odours.
Try to keep any food waste in the wheelie bin – only put non-food items into bin bags to keep pests away.
It’s a good idea to give your bins a rinse with disinfectant and hot water from time to time - or hire a reputable company to do it for you.
Don’t leave your bins out early. If you have to move them to the side of the street for collection, do so as late as possible – preferably not the night before.
Put your house name/number on wheeled bins to make sure you get your clean bin back after collections.
If your bins are cracked or broken, ask your local authority for a replacement.
Keep compost areas well sealed and a good distance from your property.