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Rats are considered to be one of the most widespread terrestrial mammals, they usually live for around 18 months in the wild. Although typically nocturnal creatures, rats will forage for food in the day.

They pose significant health risk to humans and pets and carry diseases including salmonella, Weil's disease, E.coli, cryptosporidiosis and tuberculosis. Rats also carry fleas, mites and ticks and can cause acute allergic reactions.

Where do they live?

Rats are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of rural and urban habitats, although usually near human habituation. In homes, they will reside in loft spaces, wall cavities, cellars or under floorboards. Outside, they will burrow into grassy banks or compost heaps, or even underneath sheds. Rats live in colonies, consisting of either a mated pair or one male and several females. They will breed throughout the year, producing on average eight young per litter. Rats are distinguished from mice by their size; rats generally have bodies longer than 12 cm (5 inches).

Do rats cause any real harm?

Generally, many people find the mere presence of rodents in their surroundings to be unacceptable, so can easily cause distress and fear. Most of the damage that they will cause if you have an infestation will be by gnawing and ripping at food stuffs and belongings.

How can I prevent an infestation?

  • do not feed wild birds or other animals to excess - the food will attract unwanted pests e.g. rats
  • keep your home in good condition so that rats cannot gain access easily
  • remove potential nesting sites by keeping outdoor areas clean and tidy
  • store food and household waste in sealed containers/bins, away from where rats could get access

How do I know if I have an infestation?

  • footprints or tail swipes in muddy areas or dusty surfaces
  • runs - rats follow the same routes when travelling and therefore leave trails
  • gnaw marks on any food or non-food material
  • sightings of live or dead rats
  • presence of burrows or nests, or rat droppings
  • unusual stale odours indoors

How do I get rid of them?

You can purchase rat poison from hardware stores, which will advise you on the correct usage. Ideally we would recommend you seek professional help. Exeter City Council's Pest Control Officer will be able to locate the source of the problem and treat as necessary, using poison or traps. All poisons used are applied by the Pest Control Officer who will ensure the safety of the public and minimise damage to the environment.


Exeter City Council charge £56.00 for rat treatments. Payment can be made by the following, on completion of the treatment:

  • cash or cheque (made payable to Exeter City Council)
  • debit or credit card over the telephone
  • Where an account is rendered, an additional charge of £21.00 is levied

We can also provide a survey at your home for a charge of £15 however this will not include any treatment. Should you then wish to have treatment carried out you will be charged the full treatment charge of £56.00.

There will be a 50% reduction in charges during office hours for destruction of public health pests where householder/tenant is on Income Support, Income Based Job Seeker's, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance and Guaranteed Pension Credit. Proof of benefits will be required before treatment can be carried out.

Please Note: We may charge more for a Commercial Premise.

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