Rat warning for Gloucestershire residents
RAT catchers are warning Gloucestershire residents to take action against rodents or face expensive bills in the future.
They say mice and rats will have moved into homes and outbuildings during the recent freezing temperatures, but that the coming warmer weather would not persuade them to leave.
Experts at Basis Prompt, which registers qualified pest controllers in the county, said it was vital that residents dealt with infestations properly in order save them from having to call out catchers again and again.
Rob Simpson, managing director at Basis Prompt, said: "Poorly-qualified pest controllers can do more harm than good.
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"Rodenticides are a valuable tool for pest controllers and farmers, but there are issues with them. There is evidence that resistance to them is growing, and they can also be very harmful to wildlife if they get into the food chain."
Julie Morawicz lost three lodgers at her home in Stow-on-the-Wold when "rats the size of cats" moved into her attic.
The disabled 70-year-old had to call in a number of pest controllers and their efforts eventually drove the rats away.
However, by the time her home was rat free, she was £1,600 out of pocket through lost rent and pest control fees.
At the height of the problem, Mrs Morawicz was scared to go upstairs in her house for fear of encountering one of the rats.
The retired casting agent said: "It was horrid to think of them up there, scurrying around."
There were also concerns about rats at a Taylor Wimpey development in Battledown Park, Whaddon.
Angry residents reported, last autumn, that there were a series of problems in their homes, including what they believed were rats in the cavity walls.
Rats have also been spotted in Gloucester, with one grieving widow saying she could see vermin scampering between gravestones in Tredworth as she left flowers for her late husband.
One of Basis Prompt's top tips for getting rid of rats is to "make sure you disturb long standing items".
Rob said: "Rats are neophobic, which means they don't like new objects and they don't like their environment changing.
"If you have long standing items in the garden, move them around occasionally to disturb pests."