Breeding grounds for rats in the city

Where Are the Hotspot Breeding Grounds for Rats in Major Cities?

rat pest control

It’s said that you’re never more than ten feet from a rat when travelling through a city. While that may or may not be 100% accurate at any given time or place, it’s much more than an urban myth. Cities are breeding grounds for

Britain’s least-loved vermin, meaning any commercial outfit will need to be taking rigid and regular pest control action on an ongoing basis.

A report entitled ‘Rat Land’ published last year by London Assembly member Susan Hall found that the UK capital’s rat population is growing. Over 186,000 rodent complaints were logged with local authorities in London between 2012 and 2017. That’s more than 100 a day, and the problem is getting worse.

“London’s rodent population is on the rise and, as the city continues to grow and its density increases, that trend could well continue,” writes Hall.

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Rats Are Everywhere

And it’s not just London, of course. Major cities all over the globe have a pest control problem with rats. In Paris, for example, it’s estimated there are four million rats scavenging around the city’s streets and parks, outnumbering people by two to one. And from Swansea to Liverpool to Singapore to NYC – no matter the country or continent, rats continue to be one of the world’s most successful species when it comes to adapting to inner-city life.

Why is this?

The main reason is that rats survive by scavenging. Humans, of course, produce a lot of waste – and where there are lots of humans, there is lots of waste for rats to scrounge a living off. Cities, by their very nature, are densely populated, producing an overabundance of food and shelter in a relatively small space, for rats to not only live, but thrive on. Aside from domestic cats, rats are also largely free from natural predators in cities, which, combined with their ability to breed rapidly, means that population numbers can multiply at an alarming rate and become extremely difficult to contain.

Nonetheless, pest control action must be taken to control rat numbers in cities. The presence of rats is a serious health risk to the public, for the rodents carry many diseases – including Weil’s disease, salmonella, tuberculosis, cryptosporidiosis, E. Coli, and foot and mouth disease – which can spread to humans through bites, scratches and food contamination.

The Hotspot Breeding Grounds for Inner-city Rats

The life expectancy of a wild brown rat is anywhere between one and three years – though a little over a year is usual in dense populations where competition for food is fierce. Rats reach sexual maturity after four-five weeks, at which point a female rat will typically start birthing six litters of between five and twelve rat pups a year. This means that a population of just two rats can swell to around 1,250 in twelve months, with the potential to grow exponentially from there.

So long as there is sufficient space and food, rat numbers can become overwhelming in a remarkably short period of time.

So, where are the hotspot breeding grounds for rats in major cities?

Commercial Food Outlets

Wherever there’s food, there are rats. Restaurants, bars, shops and supermarkets, takeaway and fast food outlets – all store food and produce lots of food waste, meaning rats will never be far away.

Business owners need to remember that rats are opportunistic survivors. They will live anywhere, eat almost anything, and do whatever it takes to survive. They will quickly populate areas where there is a reliable source of food, which means areas around commercial food outlets will always be particularly attractive to rats.

Rats will build nests near these places – often in back alleys where foodstuffs are delivered and food waste is left out for collection. Expect there to be large numbers of rats in areas and streets where there are many food outlets in close proximity.


Markets are another place where rats can quickly become a problem – particularly street food markets and food halls. The abundance of stored foodstuffs, food waste, crumbs, and often poorly-maintained refuse areas will attract an infestation of rats. As always, where there is a regular supply of food, there will be a regular supply of rats scrounging a living off of it.

London Underground

The London Underground is another hotspot breeding ground for rats. With lots of places to hide and shelter, and of course lots of waste bins and people carrying and dropping food, there are many rich pickings for rats.


The closed environment of sewers makes them particularly welcoming for rats. Water is in abundance, there are no predators, and they offer good shelter. Old sewers and drains which are in poor repair or not sealed off can provide good harbourage for rats – and if there is a good food supply in the vicinity, you can be almost certain there will be a rat breeding ground.

Safeguard Pest Control

No matter what type of commercial business you run in a major city, rat infestations can quickly take hold and get out of control. Rats are indeed everywhere in cities, causing major health and safety problems for business owners and local authorities. Only a robust and professional pest control programme can ensure meaningful and lasting protection from rats in any inner-city environment.

With over 30 years’ experience designing and executing bespoke pest control strategies for commercial clients, Safeguard Pest Control has the knowledge and expertise to tackle rat infestations at and around your business premises.

Please get in touch today.

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