The speed with which rats breed is frightening, but many factors help to stop a population from spiraling out of control. Rentokil Steritech has created an interactive infographic to explain the breeding cycle of a Norway rat living in an ideal environment.
In theory, a pair of rats could produce nearly half a billion descendants in just three years – but in reality, this would never happen.
It is true that a rodent infestation can spiral out of control if ignored. However, there are far too many factors like the scarcity of food and shelter, disease, natural predation, in-fighting, and, of course, pest control that are in place restricting the population.
The rapid rate of reproduction among rats might come as a shock to most people. However, it is precisely for this reason that pest control experts have always recommended the importance of prevention and recognizing the early signs of a rat problem.
Stories about rising rat populations or rat explosions in cities are nothing new. News about increasing sightings of rats often make the headlines in local newspapers, like the story from Halifax in Canada about the growing rat problem or a rodent population explosion in Ireland due to unusual winter weather conditions.
Rentokil Steritech experts have also noted an increase in roof rat populations. Not only are these destructive rodents prevalent in higher numbers, they’re also moving into areas where they haven’t been abundant in the past, such as the Central Plains states. In California, roof rats are destroying valuable agriculture crops and invading home attics in Houston, Texas.
Weather and favorable environmental conditions can often be blamed for rising rat populations. However, rodents don’t need any extra help from mother nature to increase their numbers. Humans can help them just as much.
The rise of the rats
The rise of the rats’ interactive infographic explains the breeding cycle of a Norway rat living in an ideal environment.
- A female rat typically births six litters a year consisting of up to12 rat pups, although 5-10 pups are more common.
- Rats reach sexual maturity after nine weeks, meaning that a population can swell from two rats to around 1,250 in one year, with the potential to grow exponentially.
“It’s not just that rats breed quickly,” Judy Black, Vice President of Technical Services, North America at Rentokil Steritech explains, “Aspects of their behavior can make control difficult. I have seen roof rats become trap shy to particular brands of snap traps, and I’ve seen alpha Norway rats steer clear of a food source until the lower ‘castes’ engage with the food. This is obviously an issue when pest management professionals use lures and rodenticide baits as control measures.”
She continues, “Our customers’ businesses often offer ideal conditions for rats to feed and breed, relatively sheltered from natural predators. A ‘small’ rat issue can quickly grow into one that is difficult for a business to handle.”
“That’s why having a risk-based pest management program is so critical,” says Judy. “As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Understand where your highest risk points of rodent entry might be and work with your pest management provider to put measures in place to prevent them from gaining access. Work together with your provider on the exterior to minimize the attraction of your facility. But it doesn’t stop there – you must monitor these measures to ensure they are effective, and review your entire facility regularly for new potential entry points or events that might be conducive to rodent pressure.”
The impact of rats on businesses and our cities
Many businesses are already familiar with the problems and damage caused by rodents and the many dangerous diseases and parasites they can spread. But do you know how much a rodent infestation can truly cost your business?
A report commissioned by Rentokil Steritech identified rats as the most destructive pest for businesses, causing machine downtime, electrical equipment damage and leading to, on average, eight lost working days per year.
- JC Ehrlich, a Rentokil Steritech’s local brand, saw an 86% increase in the number of rat-related calls from 2015 to 2016.
In almost any environment where there are humans, there are likely to be rats, too. Some experts say that in major cities like New York and London, there are as many rats as there are humans. This is a frightening thought though more conceivable now, given what we know about their reproduction rate.
Knowing all this, would you act more quickly if you discovered a rat problem? Leave a comment below or follow us on LinkedIn and give us your view.
If your business needs help with rats and other rodents, contact us today to schedule a free visit.