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Why Sewer Rats Invade Drains

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    You’ll be aware that many residential and commercial areas are plagued by rodents, but have you ever considered the scale of the problem? It may come as a shock to learn that there are approximately 80 million brown rats in the UK. In other words, there are several million more of them here than people.

    The majority of brown rats make their homes in the sewers, which is why they’re also called sewer rats. Some spend their entire lives down there. But others venture further afield – and may even find their way into your drains.

    Disruption Prompts Rats to Leave Sewers

    The sewer network’s subterranean tunnels provide an ideal environment for fast-expanding colonies of sewer rats (they can breed all year round, and litters contain as many as 14 pups). There are no predators in the sewers. Food waste and wastewater are readily available – rats aren’t fussy when it comes to eating and drinking! The temperature is relatively stable. Sewer rats are strong swimmers and like damp environments. Plus, they’re nocturnal and have poor eyesight, so crawling around in the dark doesn’t faze them.

    However, it isn’t unheard of for our Bristol and Bath drains experts to find evidence of sewer rats in domestic and commercial drains during CCTV drain inspections. If the sewer network is a playground for rats, why do some leave it behind? The answer is that sometimes a rat’s normal way of life in the sewers can be significantly disrupted, and the rodent therefore decides to seek another source of shelter, food and water. For instance, flash flooding may have hit the sewer network. Sewer maintenance work may have disturbed the rat. Or its colony may have reached an unsustainable size, resulting in overcrowding, food shortages and fights.

    As most drains are connected to sewers, it doesn’t take long for rats escaping the sewer network to come across a drainage system like yours. There’s a plentiful supply of wastewater – some of it still warm – and if you wash used cooking fat, oil, grease or other food debris down your drains, it’ll attract the rats too.

    Tunnelling up from Drains to the Surface

    If sewer rats invade your drains, it probably won’t be difficult for them to gain access to your property and garden.

    Perhaps you’ve heard horror stories about rats crawling down a drain and through a building’s internal plumbing before ending up in the toilet bowl. Although not impossible, this is a rare occurrence, so please don’t lose sleep over it.

    What actually tends to happen is rats find a collapsed drain, crack, hole or loose joint in the drainage system that they can exploit. As a British Pest Control Association advice sheet points out, sewer rats are agile and flexible – they can squeeze through gaps that are just 15mm wide. And if they find one narrower than that, these opportunistic creatures will simply enlarge it with their powerful teeth. After exiting a drain, rats can tunnel up to the surface then look for ways into homes or other buildings. Again, a tiny gap is all they need.

    Sewer Rats in Drains – Key Signs

    Displaced sewer rats use drains as homes, hideouts, places to breed, or simply a means of getting from A to B.

    If there’s a rat infestation in your drainage system, and the rodents are moving between your drains and the surface, you’re likely to notice the following unpleasant signs above ground:

    • Rat droppings (which look like large, dark brown grains of rice)
    • Roundish holes a few inches wide above your drains and in walls/floors
    • Slow-draining wastewater and backups
    • Chewed pipes, cables, woodwork, etc.
    • Scratching and gnawing sounds

    Ridding Drains of Rats

    Act quickly if you believe rats are invading your drains. If allowed to run amok, they can cause major structural damage to your drainage system, wall cavities, roof space, timbers and more. Sewer rats bite and carry bacteria including listeria and salmonella, so they pose a serious health risk. Plus, rat infestations do terrible damage to businesses’ reputations.

    As a leading Bristol and Bath drainage company, Mega-Rod has the skills to help you. Our drain technicians can conduct a comprehensive CCTV manhole and drain inspection to determine whether rats are present and how they’re entering/exiting drains. We can liaise with pest control services and the water company to remove the rats. Plus, we can repair drain damage, perform drain cleaning and advise you about whether preventative measures such as rat drain guards (non-return valves that stop rats crawling towards properties) would be suitable for your particular drainage system.

    Concerned about rats in your drains? Call Mega-Rod Bath on 01225 422980 today.


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      Need your drains unblocking? Septic tank need emptying? Need a CCTV Drain Survey? Contact the experts at Mega-Rod on 01225 422980. We offer a prompt, competitive service from a family firm working in Bath, Bristol and the surrounding area.