Preston residents have been warned to guard against a potential invasion of rats as autumn approaches.
Cooler temperatures and wet weather will mean the rodents abandon their summer habitats and seek shelter indoors, experts have said.
The British Pest Control Association (BCPA) has therefore urged residents to protect their properties.
Dee Ward-Thompson, BPCA technical manager, said: “Rain washes rats out of sewers and other nesting places and, inevitably, they go looking for shelter in higher ground.
“They’ll try to find some sort of dwelling and that could be lofts, garages or sheds. So it’s important for homeowners to do as much as they can to ensure they’re not among those affected.”
Preston figures show a call-out rate of 12.48 per 1,000 of population, with rats and mice making up the vast majority of the 1,750 total requests to the local authority.
Mrs Ward-Thompson added: “The first evidence of rats in a home is often noises under the floor, in the walls or loft as that’s where most will head to once they’re inside.
“Quite apart from the health risks, they’ll foul water tanks and chew on wood or electrical wires which can cause a lot of damage and poses a fire hazard.
“Rats also breed rapidly and will create nests in attics or walls, it’s vital to act as soon as any evidence is found.”
Residents are advised to seal any external gaps and ensure outside waste bins are fully closed.
Visitors to Moor Park in recent years have been warned about feeding ducks due to concerns the food attracts rats. And councillors have set up a task and finish group to discuss the city’s pest control strategy.
They have been told the number of requests for the council’s service has fallen as residents have turned to private companies.