A recent report showing London boroughs between them received 186,000 rodent complaints between 2012 and 2017 with some individual boroughs getting over 20,000.

Rodents on the rise with 186,000 sightings over the past five years

It’s well known that London, in common with many larger cities, has a rat and mouse problem; a recent report shows just how severe the issue is throughout the capital with some 186,000 reported rat and mice sightings from 2012 to 2017. Some London boroughs have received complaints well into five figures during this period as the capital’s rodent problem exacerbates.

Population increases spell problems

The report, entitled ‘Rat Land’ and compiled by London Assembly member Susan Hall, polled all 32 London boroughs for their statistics on rodent sightings and analysed, through the help of London pest control experts, why the capital’s rat and mouse problem is so acute.

Some of the more densely populated London boroughs such as Tower Hamlets are particularly affected by rat and mice infestations – indeed, Tower Hamlets accounts for 30,000 (16%) of the overall total of reported sightings, the highest of all the London boroughs. This is largely a consequence of this East London borough being right at the top in terms of overcrowding statistics, and overcrowding can encourage the proliferation of rodents and other pests.

Other London boroughs reporting high incidences of rodent sightings were Brent and Camden in the north west of the capital with just under 20,000 and 13,500 sightings respectively; Lambeth south of the River Thames with 13,300 complaints, and Ealing in the west with just over 12,240.

There are only eight boroughs reporting fewer than 1,000 sightings per year; these include the City of London (940), Kensington and Chelsea (845), Merton (546) and Hammersmith and Fulham (271).

Why there’s a rodent problem

Densely populated areas can inevitably promote pest problems, but an overall need to step up general cleanliness and hygiene has been identified. For example, using expert drain contractors to more regularly clean and clear drains is seen as an important step as areas with poor drainage can give rise to rodent infestations.

‘Street cleanliness’ measures such as sweeping and removing rubbish – particularly in the light of certain graphic videos on social media showing rats attacking rubbish bags left on streets – can inhibit rodent numbers.

It’s also down to business owners and householders generally to observe good practices when it comes to the storing and disposal of rubbish, especially food-related refuse, and to do what they can to inhibit rodents. Pests such as rats are attracted to food sources, so secure bagging of unwanted food prior to its preferably swift removal is vital.

Other solutions include the stepping up of awareness campaigns and perhaps a reconsideration of how often bins are emptied by local authorities. Refuse removal has been reduced in frequency in recent years, so food waste has been hanging around in some neighbourhoods for at least a fortnight so attracting the wrong type of visitor to an area.

Businesses handling food such as restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets are likely to be more closely monitored by environmental health personnel and encouraged to be more diligent in their rubbish handling.

A rising problem

Pest control experts say cities are ideal places for rodents to thrive as they naturally offer plenty of shelter, food and water – a situation likely to improve for them as densities of population increase.