The recent flooding caused by heavy rains in southern Norway is now setting off even more concerns and problems for local residents and businesses. Pest control experts are warning that the potential for rat invasions in homes and other buildings this autumn is higher than ever.
Autumn is already high season for rats and mice trying to find their way indoors as temperatures fall. The floods that sent torrents of water into populated areas and overloaded sewer and drainage systems has set off what the experts call “extra large rat traffic.”
Overloaded sewers push rats to the surface
Pest control technician Ingar Hære noted that rats live in sewer systems, “and when these pipes are full, the water pushes the rats up to the surface,” he told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “That’s what’s happening this year.”
In an effort to get back into warmer, darker places, the rats will seek shelter indoors as well as head back into sewer systems when waters recede. Hære warned that both mice and rats, even large ones, can squeeze their way through holes or gaps in buildings that are less than two centimeters wide. If they get inside, they can cause major damage by gnawing on electrical wiring, insulation material and anything else they find that they decide to eat.
“When rats are hungry, they’ll eat anything,” Hære told NRK. They can also make nests inside walls and spread disease. “We’ve been in houses where rats have caused tens of thousands of kroner worth of damage,” he said.
Tips for keeping rats away
Hære offered many tips for homeowners and property managers. The most important is to keep areas around garbage cans orderly, with the rubbish containers firmly closed. Fruit that’s fallen off trees in residential gardens should be picked up quickly and discarded, he said, because rotting apples, for example, attract rats.
Hære also warned against flushing any food remains down the toilet, because that can prompt hungry rats to swim up through the sewer system. “We’ve had several clients who found highly unwelcome rats in their toilet bowls,” he said, adding that there’s a reason for toilet bowl lids: “Keep them closed.”
In addition to plugging any holes in foundations or walls that can provide an entrance route for rats, Hære also advised homeowners to check cellar windows, ventilation systems and drains. If rats do find their way in, and are caught in traps, health authorities warn against touching them when attempting to discard their remains. “Rats can carry various viruses, disease and parasites that can infect humans,” said Dr Dag Helge Rønnevik of the health care services in Nedre and Øvre Eiker in Buskerud County, an area hit especially hard by the recent flooding. He told NRK that people should use protective rubber gloves, also when cleaning up any mice or rat droppings.