Rat in Bin - a common sight in Newbury

Rat in Bin - a common sight in Newbury

This topic comes up every now and again locally but I feel that simply talking about it does nothing to go to solving the issue we face in this area.

Rats resistant to certain poisons was first noticed in the Newbury area quite a few years ago, firstly with Warfarin and now to some of the second generation poison like Bromadiolone and Difenacoum.

So what make a rat resistant and how does this happen?

Well the big problem was the introduction of anti-coagulants like Warfarin, which on the whole were pretty effective and reduced massive rat populations in a matter of weeks. However, the widespread and uncontrolled use of this “miracle cure” also was its downfall.

Farmers and rat catchers, and even the general public could get hold of as much product as they wanted and liberally use this product indiscriminately. Large populations were destroyed, but then the remaining bait was left down in a hope that the remaining rats would clear it up and die. Good theory, but in practice this was a disaster. Basically, the survivors soon learnt that this bounty of food had a problem with it, so rather than taking lethal doses, the rats took small amounts, which slowly built up a resistance to it.

Then nature kicked in. The rats actually started to genetically change to breed new resistance strain of rats. These rats soon bred and became known as Warfarin resistant “Super Rats”. As new second generation poisons like Bromadiolone and Difenacoum were produced, then these Super Rats were effectively controlled by the use of second generation – well most of them until the mutation happened once more.

The use of these second generation poisons has not been restricted enough and most can be brought over the counter from country stores etc by anybody, so we are heading for the same again with these new poisons – particularly in this area.

There was a recent article in the Newbury Weekly News where I was asked my opinion on the Rat Problem in Newbury, to which I was slightly mis-quoted. What I did say was the use of second generation poisons should be restricted and monitored, and the use of Third Generation poisons like Brodifacoum or Flocoumafen (which can only be used indoors currently) should be used where outside by professional trained pest controller in appropriate circumstances and should be strictly controlled.

There are several reasons for this:

  • The general application of second generation poisons is not advisable and the quantities used and taken must be monitored to establish the effectiveness – not generally done by Joe Public I would suggest.
  • Targeted campaigns must be used with a start and end period to ensure the treatment is effective.
  • Should second Generation poisons not work relatively quickly, the controlled use of Third Generation poisons should be used as a last resort, quantities taken and used must be logged and all traces removed after treatment.
  • The use of Second and Third generation poisons needs to be carefully applied to avoid any possibility of secondary poisoning to non target species.

In conclusion, to just carry on and ignore the problem is not acceptable to anybody, and simply saying that there is not a problem in Newbury again is just ludicrous as everybody in the pest control trade knows Newbury as the epicentre of rat resistance, so time to deal with it. I am sure there are a willing group of Professional Pest Controllers like Rapid Pest Control who would be willing to get involved in field tests and help create the methodology required to deal with these cunning and difficult creatures.

So come on West Berkshire Council, the offer is here!