With a sharp increase of fly-tipping during the UK’s lockdown, rat infestations have seen a significant increase.
It has been estimated that during the lockdown there has been a 42 per cent increase of rat infestations. This has likely been a consequence of limited bin collections, but the rise of fly-tipping is also a significant factor in the rise of rodent related invasions.
We look at the causes and cures of fly-tipping and the rat problems it brings.
Food with no thought
The major attraction of rodents to fly-tipping locations is food. The government reported that in 2018/19, almost two thirds of fly tipping was household waste. Rats and other pests usually have a wide and varying diet, which makes food waste an essential part of their daily intake.
For some during lockdown, limited bin collections and recycling station use may have pushed them towards disposing of their waste in unsatisfactory locations. The increase in household waste on the streets has understandably led to an increase in rat infestations.
The issue of food waste has only been exemplified by early lockdown stockpiling. Food that families were unable to eat was discarded on the streets after waste disposal teams were scaled back to help with self-isolating workers.
The timing has also had a consequence on their breeding patterns. With lockdown providing more food waste heading into warmer summer months, the conditions to birth were ideal.
One man’s waste is another rat’s home
Other items that are usually fly-tipped include household furniture, old sofas, chairs, and wooden cabinets. These items are usually found strewn on farmland or the side of roads. The materials these items are made from are perfect for rats to recycle into habitats.
‘The mouse in the sofa’ may be a usual comedy set piece for many sitcoms. But fly-tipped furniture is no laughing matter! It produces the ideal breeding grounds and creates secure areas for infestations to live.
The Local Government Association has recommended that mandatory mattress recycling must be imposed to help combat the increasing fly-tipping problem. According to data, more than 33,000 mattresses were illegally dumped in England between 2018 and 2019. This number means that if they were stacked on top of each other they would be 20 times taller than the empire state building.
Correct waste clearance is essential, especially when it comes to household. Infestations will continue to rise along with an increased use of fly-tipping. To combat a rise in infestations, good recycling, managing food waste expectations, and avoiding illegal dumping are essential.