n Monday the nation rejoiced as non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and pub beer gardens were allowed to open their doors once again. It comes as the UK’s heroic fightback against COVID-19 continues this week, with more than 40 million jabs in arms and 7.8 million people fully vaccinated. But there is a new “war” breaking out on the streets of Britain – with offices and restaurants closed for much of the year, rat populations have exploded in residential areas.
And some of the rodents being caught are huge.
Speaking during a Channel 4 special report into the situation, reporter Minnie Stephenson said: “It’s 6am in Hounslow, North London, at a strip of kebab shops – the front line for rodent management.
“Michael Coates is ex-military, and he is calling this ‘the war on pest control’.
“A year in and out of lockdowns has led to a plague of rats on our houses and in our cities.
“The British Pest Control Association is reporting an 80 percent rise in rat activity.”
Mr Coates, from Combat Pest Control Ltd, detailed his daily struggle against the British public’s waste management.
He said: “This is what we are dealing with – you’ve got that, raw meat, just overflowing in bins.
“When we locked down, all this commercial waste dried up, so there was no food sources, so the rats had to migrate and spread out.
“They have moved into domestic gardens.”
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But experts now fear the problem could explode with the easing of Covid restrictions.
Sam Devereux, of JG Pest Control in London, told Daily Star Online: “People being at home more has seen the number of residential callouts increase.
“In 10 years this is the busiest winter we have ever had.
“But now with the weather improving and pubs, bars and restaurants opening up again, rodents are going to be migrating elsewhere.
“We have contracts with pubs, restaurants and takeaways and, while they have stopped with them being closed, we are expecting to have a busy spring and summer with them.
“As the temperature changes, they will be less inclined to seek shelter in people’s homes and this will be perfect timing with food and drink businesses opening up again.”
And Natalie Bungay, from the British Pest Control Association, said her company had noticed a change in their lifestyle patterns.
She said: “Rats, in particular, are also becoming more visible in areas of population.
“With less football across cities and towns, there is less associated food waste being left in bins and on the floor.
“Also, bin areas behind restaurants and pubs are empty and free of food waste making it unavailable for the local rat population.”