Rats to infest the Northern Rivers

RATS are unhygienic, disease-ridden and one of the most feared household pests, and they are expected to infest the Northern Rivers in huge numbers this winter.

Already, two Wardell residents, a husband and wife, have contracted serious illnesses after rats invaded their home.

They remained sick for about six weeks, local pest control expert Paul Feekings said.

He said a Ballina woman's life was also put in danger after a rat chewed through the brake wires in her car, leaving her with a $600 bill to fix the wiring.

Mr Feekings owns the Amalgamated Pest Control franchise in Ballina.

He said he expected to see a 30 per cent increase in rodent numbers on the Northern Rivers over the coming months, mainly because the recent heavy rains had flushed the rodents out of their burrows.

“The rats and the mice are now looking for somewhere dry to live, and they're looking for food,” Mr Feekings said.

“Food storage and preparation areas are particularly attractive to rodents and can easily become contaminated by rodent droppings and bacteria.

“This can be a very serious problem because rats and mice can transmit diseases such as salmonella, typhus and ring worms.

“Rodents also need to continuously chew to file their teeth down and will gnaw on anything, from the plaster in the wall, clothing and furniture, and electrical wires, which can cause short circuiting in lighting and appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators.

“One of the problems is that people often don't even realise they've got a rat or a mouse problem.

“It quickly gets out of hand.”

That's because rodents breed at an extraordinary rate.

Mice can start breeding when they are five weeks old and can have up to 60 young every year.

Rodent ‘hot spots' on the Northern Rivers include Lennox Head, Tintenbar, East Ballina, South Ballina and other rural areas.

But a rat or mouse problem doesn't necessarily mean the home is dirty or untidy.

Mr Feekings said they would live anywhere, and that all they needed was an opening the size of a 10-cent piece.

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