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When it comes to London, rats are breeding like rabbits.
From an already staggering figure of 15,877,203 in 2019, (recorded before the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown of 2020), the latest recorded figure shows that the number of rats in London is now 19,846,504 for the 2020/21 period.
Rats love the company of humans, we provide food and shelter – the ideal breeding conditions for our little rodent friends.
Crazy Breeding Habits:
The brown rat is the UK’s most dominant species of rat, and they are able to breed at an alarming speed. Female rats can produce around six litters per year, each one comprising of up to as many as twelve young. With this in mind, it is clear that the population can increase exponentially in a short space of time. To put it into perspective, a population of two rats can grow to 1,250 in only one year.
The 2020/21 COVID-19 UK Lockdown:
The statistic found by Pest.co.uk certainly suggests that the COVID-19 lockdown is partially responsible. Back in March and April 2020 when the streets suddenly seemed empty, rats will have had more freedom to come up to street level during the daytime, rather than at night. This is a huge change in their usual behaviour patterns, and will have definitely encouraged the rats to travel further to find food sources, leading to increased breeding.
What Makes London so Special to Rats?
London always seems to appear on lists of places with the worst rat problems, along with the usual suspects such as New York City and Paris. The saying that you are ‘never more than six feet away from a rat’ is certainly more accurate now than it was last year. London has a high population density in a relatively small area, meaning that rats never have to travel far to find their next meal. For example, people living on busy streets all put their bins out on the same day, providing a perfect environment for rats to scavenge food. London’s intricate sewage system is also ideal for rats to live and build their nests. Rats also often use baby wipes, paper towels and other items that aren’t meant to be flushed down the toilet in order to build their nests, meaning the sewers are truly resourceful places for rats to thrive in.
Food, Glorious Food:
Another reason why rats thrive in London is that they will essentially eat everything we eat – and more. Their ability to digest an almost limitless range of foods means that they can be easily sustained by scraps they find on the street or in bins, and no, they don’t care about the quality or freshness. Although food sources will have diminished during lockdown due to fewer people eating lunch in the city centre, rats are skilled at finding food sources elsewhere, so this certainly hasn’t slowed the population down.
All in all, it seems as though these large crowds of London-dwelling rats are here to stay.
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