RESIDENTS and businesses in Andover are being urged to be on the look-out for signs of infestation as rats and mice head indoors for winter.

During the UK-wide Covid-19 lockdown in spring, British Pest Control Association (BPCA) members reported a 51 per cent hike in rodent activity. Last month, 78 per cent of pest controllers polled reported increased rat sightings, with 63 per cent noting a rise in mouse-related incidents.

Natalie Bungay, BPCA technical officer, said: “As temperatures begin to drop and food becomes scarce, rats will begin looking for shelter and scraps in more urban locations. And as autumn and winter push on, rats start to head indoors.

“Rats and mice do not hibernate and are a problem all year round. House mice are already living in and around wherever we are. But as the weather gets colder, field mice currently surviving outdoors will look for warmer places to nest and begin to move indoors too.

“They are highly adaptable and won’t hesitate to take advantage of a warm place to nest during the winter months.”

An online guide about rats at bpca.org.uk/rats, has helpful information on identifying an infestation.

Natalie added: “In these unprecedented times, we need to ensure that effective pest management is implemented.

“During the lockdown, as designated key workers, the professional pest management sector is working hard to protect homes, as well as key areas including healthcare environments such as hospitals, the food manufacturing industry, and farms too.

“Rodents and many other pests carry and transmit diseases, and can breed at an alarming rate if left unattended.

“They contaminate food, ruin stock, and can even cause fires and floods with their gnawing.

“Pro-active pest management is the best way we can manage the risks to public health and safety.”