HOUSEHOLDERS are being urged to weigh up the cost of cutting corners on pest control this winter.

As temperatures drop, rats will start to seek shelter indoors where their gnawing activities can cause significant damage, and their foraging habits can spread disease.

Experts at British Pest Control Association (BPCA) are advising householders to think twice before attempting DIY measures, as failed treatments can lead to an infestation spiralling out of control.

Natalie Bungay, technical manager at BPCA, said: “Rat control can be an uphill battle for an untrained individual.

“Their rapid breeding cycles mean a pair of brown rats can potentially produce 200 babies - and 2,000 descendants- in just one year, so it’s essential that the correct methods and products are used to deal with the issue.

“It is vital that anyone planning to treat rats themselves takes extreme care to read the label of any product they buy and ensure that these are placed out of reach of children, pets and non-target animals.

“It might seem cheaper to deal with rats yourself, but you must weigh up the risks. Amateur-use products must be used in accordance with the instructions on the label and any dead rats need to be disposed of carefully to avoid secondary poisoning of pets and wildlife.”

Pest professionals such as BPCA members have access to products not available to members of the public as well as the training and experience to deal with an infestation efficiently and safely.

BPCA also has an online guide for householders concerned about rat problems, outlining why rats need to be controlled, the diseases they can carry and simple steps to help deter rats entering the home in the first place. Visit

Natalie said: “In the past, harsh winters were a natural method of culling rat populations, which are estimated to be anywhere between 10.5 million and 120 million in the UK.

“Milder winters in recent years are thought to have helped rat populations flourish, but they will still seek shelter and food indoors as the temperature drops.

“We would encourage householders to check out our online guide and take the simple steps listed there to help prevent rats getting into their home this winter.

“If you discover rat droppings or see or hear other signs that a rat has entered your home, we’d advise contacting a pest professional, such as a BPCA member, straight away.”

A BPCA member company will have the technical knowledge and experience to apply products in an efficient manner while minimising risk to the environment and non-target species. BPCA members:

Carry the correct insurances

Are trained and qualified technicians

Are assessed to the British Standard

in pest management EN 16636

Follow BPCA’s Codes of Best Practice.

To find a BPCA member visit: