I’m not surprised to read about a rise in rat numbers in the UK, challenging that marvellous meme that you’re never more than 6 feet from a rat. I know some people adore our rodent “friends” but I don’t think any public relations campaign could secure a good reputation.
There’s been a 39% increase in numbers of rattus norvegicus since 1998 (I couldn’t find any absolute figures in the National Pest Technicians Association survey, but the Highways Agency estimates 60 million – the same population as humans).
I have personal experience of this since since my loft proves a popular stopping point. Interesting to see factors such as poor composting and bird feeding among the factors cited for the “plague”. I agree, and also feel the increase in domestic chicken ownership doesn’t help.
Apparently there was a 22% rise in the number of rat findings over the summer (when they are supposed to be less active) – that’s when dog biscuits and cat food began to disappear from my kitchen cupboards. My spoilt pets showed no inclination to get involved (unlike my parents wilder French moggies who love a crunchy field-rat snack). Our council is one of the minority offering a free service to get rid of rodents, but unfortunately for me, one of the darlings died under the floorboard outside my bedroom door in the hottest weak of the year – the “dirty rat”.
Maybe I should move to Alberta in Canada which apparently has a rapid-response service to ensure the province retains its 50-year history as rat free. Now there’s a positive reputation.