A spike in the local rat and mice population is causing distress across Inishowen.
Winter usually brings an increase in rodent activity – but this year is different; it’s much worse than normal – but what can householders do about it?
“This year has been exceptional thus far,” says Patricia Page, of North West Pest Control Ltd.
Her firm is currently “flat out” as temperatures drop and desperate “little furry visitors” seek warmth indoors.
“I’m doing this job thirty years now and I haven’t experienced anything like the volume of calls we’re currently receiving. I have a team of four technicians and we’re flat out.”
Known affectionately as the ‘Ratwoman’, Patricia says there “just aren’t enough hours in the day” to meet the demand for their pest control services – and it’s a similar story all across the entire north-west region.
“We actually have a waiting list of up to three days at the moment, such is the influx of calls,” she explains.
“Understandably when people call me they’re extremely distressed and I’ll always try my best to accommodate them. We have calls coming in from across the North and Donegal.”
Patricia puts the marked increase in rodent activity down to a combination of a relatively mild winter last year and a half decent summer this year.
“When you have good feeding, you’ll have good breeding and come winter all these little furry visitors are looking to go inside,” she says.
“When temperatures are low, with heavy rain and a scarcity of food sources, they tend to gravitate towards our homes, sheds and businesses seeking food and shelter.”
Tips to keep rodents at bay
Patricia says there are a number of simple things householders can do to minimise the risk of “rodent squatters”.
- Keep the area around the outside of your home neat and tidy.
- Keep grass short and maintained and any overgrowth cut back.
- Remove any accumulations of household waste.
- Take care when feeding birds too, as this provides an excellent food source for rats and mice.
- Keep wheelie bins and buckets, etc away from your property, as these provide hiding areas for mice especially – and would allow them to literally walk in an open door.
- A mouse only requires a 6mm gap to enter your home. Seal any gaps or holes around the property. A good rule of thumb is, if you can fit a standard pen or pencil comfortably into a gap then a mouse can get in.
- Rats only need a gap of between 15-25mm.
- Check your oil burner too, as rodents will initially be drawn to that area for warmth and shelter but if there’s a fault where the heating pipes enter the home then rodents will use that to gain access.
A leaflet about household pet control can be downloaded here