A rat catcher from Desborough with more than 23 years’ experience hunting the crafty rodents says he believes the pests have got a lot bigger in the past few years.
Daniel Sumpter, of DKS Pest Control, based in Desborough, got in touch with the Telegraph after spotting an article about a Wellingborough woman whose dog killed a foot-long rat in the kitchen of her Midland Road home.
Mr Sumpter said her story is not unusual and added that, in his opinion, the rodents have increased in size.
He sent several photos to the Telegraph of large rats, each measuring more than a foot in length, that he has spotted in recent months – and added that he once killed a rat measuring a whopping 23 inches from its nose to the base of its tail.
He said: “There are a lot more people around than there used to be and as rats just eat the same food we do, that means there is more around for them to eat.
“You see a lot of rats around takeaways where they have easy access to food.
“Also, people are generally getting bigger than they used to be – so it makes sense that the rats would be bigger as well. If they eat a lot of protein they will grow larger.”
Mr Sumpter said he works with more than 60 businesses, mostly in Northamptonshire, although he also works for a national company which has sent him as far afield as Scotland and Ireland to catch rats.
He said: “Rats are very clever, I have a lot of respect for them. They learn very quickly and work out how to avoid traps.
“I’ve been sent to catch two or three-year-old rats in the past which have eluded traps and poisons which other pest controllers have put out for them.
“It isn’t always easy, and I have to use all my experience.”
Mr Sumpter said people with garden decking need to be particularly aware of rats.
He added: “They can get into small spaces, so if the decking isn’t sealed then they will be able to get underneath there and will live quite happily.
“Garden sheds also need to be raised off the ground, if possible. The rule we used to tell people is that if a Jack Russell can get underneath the shed then it is the right height for rats.
“They breed very quickly. A pair of rats, if they avoided disease, traps and the temperature was warm, could breed 2,000 rats in a year, because females can start breeding when they are just four months old.”
Mr Sumpter said rats can cause a lot of damage to buildings because they have to constantly gnaw on wood and other hard objects to keep their teeth, which grow constantly, worn down.
Contact DKS on 07850 380923 for more information.
The right kit
Mr Sumpter uses a number of different tools in a bid to outsmart rats.
Chief among these are his Fenn traps, which come in different sizes and are placed in small plastic tunnels and snap shut when a rat steps on or runs across the plate and do not require bait.
He also uses an endoscope camera to peer inside nests and dens and learn more about where the creatures are hiding.
As well as catching rats, he says he is often also asked to deal with rabbits, mink, wasps, cockroaches and other insects.