Britons Living the "Good Life" Contribute to the Exploding Rat Population

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An estimated 1.2 million Britons living the 'Good Life' keep chickens. Almost nine million keep a compost heap, while 19.5 million UK households feed birds and animals. Those in the UK living the 'Good Life' are five times more likely to have rats on and around their properties.

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The number of call-outs we receive for rats is sharply increasing. Much of this is due to the change in the weather, the warmer winters and wetter summers. The main contributing factor to this problem, however, is the lifestyle of residents.

The rodent population in the country has exploded with the increase in the number of city dwellers living the 'Good Life', according to the home repair and maintenance experts HomeServe. Their recent research revealed people living the 'Good Life' are almost five times more likely to have rats on their property than non-eco neighbours are.

Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and Gordon Ramsay are just a few of the celebrities who have inspired Britons to live the 'Good Life'. Currently, an estimated 8.8 million people in the UK recycle organic waste in a compost heap while 1.2 million keep free range chickens at home*. HomeServe's new study also says 19.5 million people in the UK regularly leave food out for animals and birds that visit their gardens.

A total of 44% of people who use compost heaps and chicken runs have seen rats on their properties compared to 9% of homeowners who don't have these eco-friendly systems. HomeServe cautions Brits to make sure their earth-friendly systems aren't providing rats and rodents with food.

The home maintenance and emergency repair providers discovered approximately 6.5 million people have seen rats right in their own gardens and an unlucky 1.2 million homeowners have seen rats right inside their homes. This is reflective of a rat population that varies from 15 million to 100 million annually. A single mating pair of rats can produce up to a whopping 200 offspring annually**.

The 'Good Life' may be good in many ways, but it is doing little to curb the country's rodent problem. To make matters worse, one in two residents has not reported the sighting to the local pest control or council.

HomeServe worries the constant increase in green organic living will simply fuel the rodent population, particularly now that the pests are leaving their damp nests in search of warmer, drier places to live.

The service provider expects the number of pest control calls relating to the rats to double during the winter months and they urge residents to watch for the vermin, particularly if they leave food or garbage on their property. This is a common occurrence in Britain. In fact, 4.1 million households admit to leaving rubbish containing organic waste outside their homes.

"The number of call-outs we receive for rats is sharply increasing. Much of this is due to the change in the weather, the warmer winters and wetter summers. The main contributing factor to this problem, however, is the lifestyle of residents. Many of them are unknowingly helping the vermin by providing convenient food sources in the form of refuse, bird feeders and compost heaps," explains HomeServe Membership CEO Jon Florsheim.

"Residents need to be diligent and report any sightings of rats or other pests; they won't go away on their own. The longer pests live and thrive on the property, the more difficult it is to get rid of them. And, as the colder, moist weather sets in, people are more likely to see them in their homes and on their property," stated Florsheim.

Some councils offer a pest removal service, but residents need to check with their local office. Otherwise, HomeServe professionals are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They offer pest control as part of their standalone services and emergency home insurance policies.

*ICM interviewed a random sample of 2,038 adults aged 18+ online between 7th – 9th November 2008. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at http://www.icmresearch.co.uk.

**Daily Mail, 28th October, 2008

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Emma Harvey
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