WIGAN folk are being urged to be extra vigilant amid reports of mutant super-rats at large.
Fears have been raised after the rodents, which are immune to regular poisons, have been spotted in towns and are now spreading across the UK.
But despite worries, expert Elliot Lowe of Swinley-based Cavalry Pest Solutions says residents can take simple steps to reduce the likelihood of infestation.
He said: “Prevention is better than cure. Pest control companies together with rodenticide manufacturers and the Health and Safety executive (HSE) are working very hard to address issues relating to rodenticide use and resistance whilst at the same time minimising risk to the environment.
“The term ‘mutant super-rats’ can be misleading, Rodenticide resistance is not a new phenomenon, it is an issue that is taken very seriously by the pest management industry.
“This does not mean that the threat posed to public health by rats, contaminated food, structural damage and rodent-borne disease should be taken lightly.”
Scientists have warned that in parts of England, up to 70 per cent of rats could be resistant to poisons.
The resistant rats have the ability to multiply rapidly as their gestation period is just22 days and they reach sexual maturity by eight to 12 weeks.
Genetic testing is being used to determine the presence of super rats across 23 counties in England, two in Wales and one in Scotland.
Findings, which have been funded by a number of leading European pest control companies, will be presented in the spring next year.
Until then, Mr Lowe has offered advice to Wiganers on how to keep the super-rats away. He added: “I would urge people to not attempt DIY treatments, which are often ineffective at best and can actually make the problem worse. Deal with the problem quickly, safely and effectively - call out a professional, this could save a lot of time and money in the long run.
“Rats and mice are clever creatures and naturally suspicious, so tend to quickly avoid many traps.
“Poisons will sometimes kill more birds and general wildlife than pests due to members of the public failing to follow product instructions. Professionals are often not as expensive as people think and will get the job done professionally, safely and efficiently.
“Remove food at night put out for pets and birds during the day. Use dustbins with well-fitting lids and do not overfill them. Store food in rat-proof containers or in rat-proof storerooms.
“Prevent rubbish accumulating and cut back vegetation on rough ground to deny rats shelter.
“And always make sure that you use pest control companies that are members of The National Pest Technicians Association (NPTA) or The British Pest Control Association (BPCA).”