Why “yes…. i do have rats” is still the big taboo

We talk to a lot of people in this business (or rather they talk to us/at us) and the one constant is people’s embarrassment or hesitation to declare and discuss their rat infestation.

Even when it’s clearly a very significant and established problem (i.e. blow flies and stench) people will still play it down as ‘it’s just the one rat’ or ‘yes bit of an issue’.

Ever since the Victorians coined the phrase ‘filthy & verminous’ (which is terminology still used by Environmental Health enforcement notices today), people with rats are deemed to have associations with poverty, the unclean and disease.

Admitting you have rats seems to be akin to admitting you have head lice as well as clearly declaring yourself to be of a lower social class and intellect.

People will typically show a fascination and keen interest in their immediate neighbours rat problem (often with judging looks, whispering and knowing smiles) but when questions come their way the responses vary from defensive one or two word answers to outright lies!

Some will happily share intimate details about family members, relationships, medical conditions etc. (despite the information not really being requested) but when it comes to rats it seems that’s the one subject where all of a sudden the shutters come down.

Why is this relevant?

Well when the building fabric is shared between you and your neighbours – i.e. via wall cavities or roof voids – then rats can travel between the properties.

Therefore in these situations, it’s important to know whether your neighbour has rats (and for them to be honest about it) as it means treating your property alone won’t necessarily resolve the issue.

If you ask them and they say ‘no, never’ then be sure to doubt that response!

If you ask them and they say ‘sometimes or ‘a little bit’ then quadruple that response!


Should people be embarrassed about rats?

No not at all – it’s usually just because a builder somewhere hasn’t capped or repaired a section of drainage adequately.

Or sometimes it’s simply where rats within the waste water network have made their own way out of modern flimsy plastic drainage.

It’s completely unrelated to hygiene and it happens to all grades of social class, all types of property and all walks of life.

Sometimes studies are conducted showing correlations between high levels of reported rat activity and certain lower income postcodes but this simply reflects the available spare cash to successfully fix these drainage issues!

Often it can be a big investment and if you’re renting then lots of people simply don’t want to pay to fix somebody else’s drains.

So be open about your rat problem – talk freely about it and watch how virtually everyone responds with their stories of past or current episodes.

This is a problem that is absolutely everywhere after all.