13 places in London where you’ll find rodents

Rodent control measures will differ depending on the type of environment that need to be treated. Inoculand Ltd Pest Control Head Biologist, Daniel Neves talks about 13 types of locations in London where rodents can be seen regularly.

1. Park buildings

In most parks you can find singled out buildings with nothing around but grass and trees. These buildings are often owned by the local  council and can host a variety of parks and leisure services. Other buildings can be historical, such as an old fire brigade station that has been developed into residential quarters by private investors.

Park buildings are the only standing structures and can offer a host of benefits to rodents such as foodstuff and shelter from the elements. The best rodent control in such circumstances is rodent proofing in order to keep them out. There are three types of rodents that can easily infest such buildings: rats, mice and squirrels. Placing rodent mesh over the air bricks will stop ingress of mice. If there is a gap below the doors, place a draught excluder or a threshold bar there. Sealing any gaps in the external masonry work will stop mice and rats. And securing the roof line at fascia level or around the gutter pipes with mesh will be the best squirrel deterrent.

If you find a squirrel nest or even only squirrel poop, back off immediately and call a squirrel pest control service right away.

2. Large residential developments

In a block of flats, everything communicates following the pipes and electric wires—from the service areas to the risers.

Rodents do not appear from thin air

It is very difficult to ensure that rodents do not ever enter the fabric of the building. So, the challenge then becomes managing whatever rodents have gotten in and preventing any infestation from building up and spreading.

The best rodent control strategy is prevention. By having a pest control contract in place, we can place bait boxes or traps in critical areas to take care of the rodents before they begin breeding and spreading further. For a block of flats, rodent control is quite straightforward for mice, but can be very challenging for rats that are often linked to the sewers and connecting drains.

Block management companies who do not have an efficient mice control strategy in London run the risk of having residual levels of activity spreading unnoticed toward the upper floor until the mice find a suitable flat that will allow them to breed exponentially. Once the rodent infestation is established it will then affect all the surrounding flats.

I recall a particular block of flats in Newington SE11, where a gentleman on the sixth floor was living in the most squalid conditions. Mice had eventually found his flat, and with it an unlimited food supply and a tenant who would not care. Eventually the infestation affected the surrounding neighbours who reported the issue one after the other. Then eventually, complaints started on the seventh and then fifth floors. It is only further down the line that the landlord managed to force entry, declutter and disinfect the flat and sort out the rodent infestation.

3. Next to major refurbishments

When you refurbish a house, any nesting rodents will go somewhere else, probably next door. The noise and vibration will disturb the local mice population and increase the chance of sightings.

The best rodent control approach in this case is to carry out a round of preventive treatments before or as the work begins. It is also essential that the builders do not leave any waste pipes uncapped while a toilet is being disconnected. Even work at street level may cause sudden outbreaks or push the rodents escaping the underground/foundation areas toward the habited levels.

4. Run-down properties

Normally, a void property would not have the necessary foodstuff to sustain a large mice population. However, the worst jobs I have ever seen were linked to tenants living in a run-down home with broken kitchen units where mice were able to readily access the food.

Keeping foodstuff in sealed containers or in upper kitchen units will not only protect your health, but will possibly be the most efficient rodent control step you can take in this instance. The maintenance and upkeep of a property can be costly and if you do not have the means or ability to refurbish your property, contact social service or your local authority for help.

5. Properties with elderly and vulnerable tenants

London can be a lonely place for senior citizens, and families are not always at hand to help or to take notice if there is a problem.

As well, social services can only do so much, and so much is sometimes not enough. There are individuals who are living in terrible conditions, and this may only come to the attention of social services because of an accident or medical condition requiring hospitalisation.

The properties are at times left empty for months, with the food all around. Even though the property gets decluttered and cleaned, unless sufficient support can be provided when the tenant returns, it’s likely that the property will soon return to a similar state.

If at all possible, carrying out the rodent proofing of a flat that is prone to rodent activity will not only protect it from re-infestation, but will also protect the neighbours when the personal condition of the flat or tenant deteriorates again.

6. Above shops and restaurants

Most high streets have a mix of businesses, of which a number of them are food premises.

Food premises have a responsibility to ensure adequate pest control measures are in place, or that there is active rodent control and insect monitoring. However, it is not enough to have a pest control folder to show to the council Environmental Health Officer (EHO); it is also important to implement strategies to reduce the chances of future infestation.

Flats situated above food premises should monitor for signs of rodent activity underneath the kitchen units and report any droppings or rodent sightings to the shop owner below without delay.

7. Tube or train stations

From the platform most of us have seen these cuties, quite amazing in their resilience, running past high voltage rails. There are so many of us eating in stations, letting crumbs fall on the floor, and discarding unfinished takeaways.

The staff are already doing the most amazing job of cleaning and collecting rubbish. But the ultimate solution lies with us not eating on the underground network and not throwing anything on the floor. A MyLondon article estimated that 500,000 mice live in the network of tunnels on the London Underground—that is only possible because of the food we provide them with.

8. Historical buildings and museums

Ancient buildings are likely to have gaps in many places, and even though many public areas have been refurbished to modern standards, the back of house is often another story.

There is a good chance that you will find a few storage rooms, bin chambers and outdoor areas with rodent activity. There may also be various staff rooms/kitchens and catering units that are likely to suffer from rodent infestations too, or dining rooms and other large public halls with any one of us having a sandwich or two.

The positive side is that in large institutions pest control is taken very seriously and managed quite closely. However, rodent proofing opportunities are often limited to the back of house area, and fraught with building conservation and fire safety issues.

9. Hospitals

Hospitals are by far the institutions that put in the most effort to prevent rodents and other pests from reaching our wards. Whenever there is a breach, hospital managers do not hesitate to close entire wards while they take the necessary measures. In this case the solution is plain: if any rodents reach a ward it is because there is a way in!

It will not do to place rodent bait in a hospital ward; the rodents would first need to enter the hospital before they can eat the poison, and it is their coming in that is the problem to start with. The solution is to keep them out by rodent proofing, and baiting as upstream as possible to kill them before they reach critical areas.

10. End of terraces

If at any point rodents manage to get in a terrace house, they will be able to nest and begin breeding. As the number of rodents increase, the infestation may expand into the next-door property until eventually the rodents reach the end of the terrace where they can go no further.

In effect, what happens is a buildup of rodents: the existing mice are not able to spread further and more mice continue to come in from the mid-terrace area. In such a case the end-of-terrace tenant faces a potentially endless mice issue.

The best rodent control strategy would hence be having the property before yours carry out a round of rodent treatment so as to kill them before they can reach you. Otherwise, the alternative is to protect your home by rodent proofing it.

11. Diogenes Syndrome

I’ve come across a few flats with belongings reaching up to the ceiling, and others with piles of newspapers with clever paths carved out to allow access from table to fridge. Many of these flats were actually clean and with no mice infestation to speak of. On the other hand, I’ve also seen flats with all kinds of rubbish collected from the street and gathered in every corner of the home.

But the worst comes when you have clutter and rubbish everywhere and discarded, half-eaten meals left around for days or weeks. When mice reach such a property, it can lead to an explosion of activity. Unfortunately, there’s usually not an opportunity to enact rodent control measures beforehand, as often such flats are tenanted by very private people who do not allow others inside their home.

12. Semi-industrial estates

Industrial estates are just that: warehouses with a few offices and staff kitchens. With the London rental market being what it is, and many companies having suffered from the downturn, many entrepreneurs have converted part of their premises into flats.

Such conversions often rely on partitions and suspended ceilings, making rodent activity difficult to control because they can chew new openings through the drywall sheets.

13. Properties alongside a canal

Properties built along a canal or other body of water are prone to rodent activity. Rats are excellent swimmers, and the canal can also serve as a source of drinking water. This makes rat control especially challenging.

The best rat repellent measures are to build efficient fencing and allow no gaps through which the rats would gain easy access.