RESIDENTS in Mansfield are being warned to think twice before tackling pest problems themselves following fresh fears over so-called mutant ‘super rats’.
Experts fear the number of rodents, which are immune to traditional poisons, have been found in Kent, the west country and now Sussex.
They fear numbers are set to increase dramatically and claim the only solution is stronger poisons.
But professional pest control register Basis Prompt insists householders shouldn’t be tempted to take matters into their own hands.
Only qualified technicians, they say, have the expertise and experience to deal with the problem effectively and responsibly.
Rob Simpson, managing director of Basis Prompt, warned: “If people try to deal with issues themselves, or bring in unqualified controllers because they are cheap, infestations could get out of hand.
“It’s easy to get out of your depth when trying to control pests of all kinds as their treatment is often complicated and specialised.
“But that is particularly the case with these so-called ‘super rats’, which are resistant to routine poisons.
“The need for stronger treatments raises the prospect of secondary poisoning, where animals and birds who prey on targeted vermin can be affected.
“So it’s even now more important than ever to make sure infestations are treated by professionals.”
The increase in the prevalence of ‘super rats’, which look like normal rodents but eat toxic pellets ‘like feed’, was discovered by researchers from the University of Huddersfield.
They say while poison-resistant rodents have been around for 50 years, due to a naturally-occurring mutation of genes, their numbers are spreading rapidly.
Richard Moseley, of the British Pest Control Association (BPCA), explained: “Normal rats are being killed off by poison, so these resistant species are taking their place – it’s only natural that their numbers are expanding.
“They eat poison like feed - you might as well be leaving out grain for them - and their numbers are expanding.
“Rats carry and spread diseases, so if their populations are left unchecked there can be a big public health risk.
“I would urge people worried about infestations to seek professional advice.”
A recent nationwide survey, carried out by the BPCA, revealed an increasing number of local authorities are cutting, outsourcing or introducing charges for pest control services in a bid to balance their budgets.
The results, which received widespread media coverage, prompted fears that more residents will tackle problems such as ‘super rats’ themselves.