BRITS face a super “rat explosion” next year after the rodents have become immune to pest control.
A hair-raising new study has revealed three quarters of the pesky beasts are now immune to anti-pest methods.
The new tests show 74% of the disease-ridden rodents carry a “resistance gene” that makes them tough enough to survive everyday poisons.
And rat catchers warn 2021 could see houses riddled with rats after lockdown saw the beasts invading UK suburbs.
Rats became so ravenous after pandemic restrictions shut restaurants that they were forced to head to UK homes for a tasty meal – with some even eating each other.
Now rodent experts believe a balmier winter could cause a rat boom early next year.
Pest control expert Jenny Rathbone at pest.co.uk said: “It’s very worrying because this ‘hybrid-resistance’ means that some common rodenticides simply won’t work to control rat numbers.
“This together with a bumper breeding year means we are in for a heck of a ride in 2021 if we don’t have a very, very cold winter.”
The new figures from the 2019-20 Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use survey showed 74% had mutated and now carry a resistance gene to popular rat poisons.
And in some parts of the UK, rats have become super-resistant to anti-pest measures, with 20% carrying two different genes which help them fight the poisons.
Dr Buckle of the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use said: “Although one such rat was found in 2017, this is the first time in the UK that ‘hybrid-resistance’ has been found on this scale, with potentially unknown difficulties for pest rodent control.
The UK rat population rocked 25% this year and is now estimated at around 150 million.
More than half of UK rat catchers have reported a spike in rodent activity since lockdown restrictions began in March, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) said.
The beasts, some measuring 18-inches in length, are also engaged in “rat wars” as they gather together in “colonies” and attempt to take over rival turf.
And there have even been reports of the bloodthirsty rats eating each other.
Catcher Martin Kirkbride, of Openshaw, Manchester, said he saw a surge in reports of infestations during lockdown with several calls every day.
He says some of the rodents have invaded homes with one case involving a colony in an upstairs flat.
Homeowners can prevent a furry beast invasion by covering up holes in brickwork, shed doors and cellars.
Cupboards should also be emptied of things rats can use to nest, like rags, sacks and old clothes.
All food and crumbs should also be removed from outbuildings and worktops kept clean.
Ms Rathbone added: “The best deterrent I can recommend is removing all sources of food – bird feed is the worst at this time of year as bird lovers overstock bird tables – this high energy food is like a Michelin starred meal to rodents.
“Without a very cold winter, we will be entering 2021 with huge numbers of breeding rats carrying a new resistance to common pest control methods.”
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