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Rat Pests

General Information

There are two species of rat in the UK. The first is known by many names but is mainly referred to as the Brown Rat or Common Rat. The second is the Black Rat, also known as the Ship Rat. Brown rats live in large, hierarchical groups, either in burrows or subsurface places, such as sewers and cellars. If a large fraction of a rat population is exterminated, the remaining rats will increase their reproductive rate, and quickly restore the old population level. When food is in short supply the rats that are lower in the social order are the first to die.

They have an acute sense of hearing, frequently using ultrasound to communicate and are particularly sensitive to any sudden noise. 90% of rats live in the sewers and can gain access to your property by traveling up the soil waste pipe and creating, or finding weaknesses in that pipe to gain entry in the property cavities. They have a strong nose and can sniff out wrapped foods, especially chocolate. Rats feed mostly at night and on average eat 50g of food a day. Preferred foods are cereal products, although rats are omnivorous and will eat almost anything that humans do. Rats are said to establish an order of hierarchy, so one rat will be dominant over another. Rats can tell nearly everything about another just by the smell of a single drop of its urine.

Diseases Information

Rat bites and scratches can cause disease and rat-bite fever, whilst the rat’s urine is responsible for the spread of leptospirosis (Weils Disease), which can in turn result in liver and kidney failure. One of the most historically dangerous rat-borne diseases is the bubonic plague, also called the “Black Plague’’. The disease is transferred when fleas from the rats bite human beings. Consuming food or water that is contaminated by the bacteria from rat feces can cause Salmonellosis (salmonella poisoning).

Average Lifecycle

The brown rat can breed throughout the year if conditions are suitable, with females producing up to five litters a year. The gestation period is only 21 days and litters can be up to 14 pups, although 7 is common. They reach sexual maturity in about five weeks, and under ideal conditions this means that the population of females could increase by 350% in 8 weeks (5 weeks for sexual maturity and 3 weeks of gestation). As a result, the population can grow from 2 to 15,000 in a year. The maximum life span is three years, although most barely manage one. A yearly death rate of 95% is estimated, with predators and interspecies conflict as major causes of mortality. Females are capable of becoming pregnant immediately after giving birth, and can nurse one litter while pregnant with another. Females are able to produce and raise two healthy litters of normal size and weight without significantly changing their own food intake. However, when food is restricted, females can extend pregnancy by over two weeks, and give birth to litters of normal number and weight.

Quick Facts

Type: Mammal (Rodent)
Diet: Omnivore
Lifespan: 2-3 years
Size: Average body is 25cm long with tail being a further 20cm
Weight: 350-450 g for females and 450-650 for males
Habitat: Extremely adaptable and can thrive in most habitats providing there is adequate food/water supply.
Range: Originated in Asia, but has spread throughout the world.
Scientific name: Rattus genus

There are two common species of rat found in the UK:

Brown Rat

The first rat is known by many names but it’s most popular is the Brown Rat or Common Rat. Brown Rats live in any situation that provides food, water and shelter. In homes and offices they will live in roof spaces, wall cavities or under floorboards. Like mice they file down their front teeth (incisor), which can cause structural damage if enough rats are present.

Black Rat

The second is the Black Rat, also known as the Ship Rat. The Black Rat is now rarely found in the UK but will habitat around shipping ports.

Property Owners

Property owners have a legal obligation under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 to keep premises rodent free. If rodents pose any threat to the health of persons or the safety of the property then tenants/clients can report such infestations to the local authority.


• The Brown Rat, officially known as Rattus norvegicus (Norway Rat) was given this miss nomer by naturalist John Berkenhout in the 18th century believing them to have arrived on ships from Norway however, it’s origin was later discovered to be Asia.

• Rats take care of injured and sick rats in their group.

• Without companionship rats tend to become lonely and depressed.

• Rats have excellent memories. Once they learn a navigation route, they won’t forget it.

• Rats succumb to peer-pressure, just like humans.

• Brown rats are prone to disregard personal experiences in order to copy the behaviour of their peers. The urge to conform is so strong that they will even choose to eat unpalatable food if they are in the company of other rats who are eating it.

• A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water.

• The rat is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.

• People born in this year are thought to possess characteristics which are associated with rats, namely: creativity, intelligence, honesty, ambition and generosity.


We at PestGone carry out immediate treatment to identify where the rat/s are entering the premises, as well as getting to the route cause and source.
On average two visits is sufficient however, every situation is different and a customised treatment plan will be given and explained. 

Give us a call: 0208 914 8285