MILD weather could be behind a dramatic reduction in rat infestations in homes and gardens across the Test Valley Borough Council pest control officials say call outs to deal with the rodents has fallen significantly during the last few months.

It is believed that because food is still plentiful in the wild the rats are not coming into people’s gardens.

Figures show that between 1 October 2012 and 10 January 2013 the council received 254 requests relating to rat infestations.

However, between October last year and this January, only 92 requests for treatment were made.

“This is an overall decrease of 63.78 per cent.

“The number of requests for treatment has fallen significantly this year.

“This may be due to the mild weather we have experienced this winter which has meant that food is still available outside,”

said a borough spokeswoman.

Officials say the worst areas in the borough for rat infestations are in the Andover area and this can be expected because it’s Test Valley’s l a r g e s t town.

The council has two full-time pest control officers on the go dealing with rat and other rodent problems in the borough.

The spokeswoman added that the council has not had any reports of the socalled super rats in the Test Valley that have been spotted in other parts of south-east England.

These are the large rodents that are said to be immune to anticoagulant baits which rats feed on until it kills them.

Rats carry disease and health risks including salmonella which can be caught through eating food or drinking water contaminated by rat faeces.

However, one of the most deadly infections transmitted by rats through their urine is leptospirosis – often referred to as Weil’s disease.

Health experts say that the disease kills two or three people in Britain annually.

Pigs, cattle and dogs also carry the bacteria and health officials say farmers and vets are more at risk than anyone of contracting the sometimes fatal disease which in the worst cases can result in organ failure.