THE county’s rat population seems to be on the increase with more and more sightings being reported.

Herefordshire Council has received more than 1,000 rat-related calls in the past year and Andy Luck, senior pest control officer with the council, said this may be due to high levels of rain.

Mr Luck said: “It is difficult to say if there has been an actual increase in the number of rats across the county, however the council is receiving enquiries from residents who have not previously had rats inside their properties.

“When the sewers flood, or there is a higher volume of water than normal, rats tend to move above ground.

“The brown rat is a common rat in Herefordshire, which also inhabits the sewer systems. While there isn’t the need to be overly concerned, residents should be aware of the damage rats can cause.

“They have a habit of chewing through electric cables, while also fouling animal and human feedstuffs with their urine and droppings.”

Rats are known to be the primary cause of bubonic plague in humans and can also spread diseases such as salmonella, E.coli, leptospirosis, foot and mouth disease and murine typhus.

These are usually spread via contaminated food or open wounds and sores on the skin coming into contact with rat urine or bites.

The council provides a service to get rid of pests but residents can help to ensure their homes do not become a haven for the animals.

People should ensure all food waste is stored in a solid bin with a lid to deter rats and that bird food is consumed in the day and not thrown onto the ground.

For further information visit pestcontrol