The British Pest Control Association is urging householders to weigh up the cost of cutting corners on pest control this winter.
During wintry weather, rats will begin to seek food and shelter indoors, posing a risk to businesses – but a greater risk could be a failed attempt at treatment, which can lead to infestations spiralling out of control.
BPCA is advising householders to think twice before attempting DIY measures.
Natalie Bungay, technical manager at BPCA, said: “Rat control can be an uphill battle for an untrained individual. Their rapid breeding cycles mean a pair of brown rats can potentially produce 200 babies – and 2,000 descendants – in just one year, so it’s essential that the correct methods and products are used to deal with the issue.
“It is vital that anyone planning to treat rats themselves takes extreme care to read the label of any product they buy and ensure that these are placed out of reach of children, pets and non-target animals.”
Ms Bungay said that while it might seem cheaper to deal with rats yourself, you must weigh up the risks.
“Amateur-use products must be used in accordance with the instructions on the label and any dead rats need to be disposed of carefully to avoid secondary poisoning of pets and wildlife,” she added.
BPCA also has an online guide for householders concerned about rat problems, outlining why rats need to be controlled, the diseases they can carry and simple steps to help deter rats entering the home in the first place.
Ms Bungay said: “In the past, harsh winters were a natural method of culling rat populations, which are estimated to be anywhere between 10.5 million and 120 million in the UK.
“Milder winters in recent years are thought to have helped rat populations flourish, but they will still seek shelter and food indoors as the temperature drops.
“We would encourage householders to check out our online guide and take the simple steps listed there to help prevent rats getting into their home this winter.”