Rat and mouse infestations rocket by 40% during lockdown

Rat and mouse infestations rocket by 120% during lockdown as rodents that normally survive on pub and restaurant scraps invade homes in search of food

  • Aviva found 120 per cent increase in rodent-related call-outs from March to June
  • They analysed the data from the family-run business JG Pest Control in the UK
  • Comes after the British Pest Control Association noted a surge in complaints

Rodent infestations across the UK have surged during the coronavirus lockdown, analysis by an insurance company has found.

Data provided to Aviva by JG Pest Control found there had been a 42 per cent increase in rat infestations during lockdown by comparing call-outs from January to March this year with call-outs between April and June.  

The family-run business, which offers pest control services in London, the Midlands, the North West, East and South of England, also saw a 120 per cent increase in rodent-related call-outs from March to June compared with the same period in 2019. 

It come just a month after a survey from the British Pest Control Association revealed more than half of UK rat catchers had seen a surge in complaints about infestations since the end of March. 

Data provided to insurance company Aviva by JG Pest Control found a 120 per cent increase in rodent-related call-outs from March to June compared with the same period in 2019. (Stock image)

The number of residential rodent cases for the first half of 2020 was equivalent to 90 per cent of comparable cases for the whole of 2019, the figures show.

Sarah Applegate, head of general insurance insights at Aviva, said: ‘There are a number of possible reasons behind the rise of rodents.

‘Reduced bin collections may have led to new food sources for pests at people’s homes.

‘Similarly, rats and mice who were used to finding food near to pubs and restaurants may have had to look elsewhere while commercial outlets were closed.

‘Or there’s the chance that people may have just become more aware of mice and rats because they’ve been at home and have been able to spot them – when they might ordinarily have been at work or school.

‘Most home insurance policies do not cover rodent infestations as part of their standard terms. However there are specialist policies available and certain add-ons which provide cover.

‘For example, Aviva Home Emergency cover provides expert help with emergencies including pest infestation of rats, mice, wasps or hornets. If you’re in any doubt as to whether you’re covered, it’s best to check with your provider.’ 

The figures also showed that there was a 42 per cent increase in rat infestations between April and June this year. (Stock image)

The insurance company said one of the reasons behind the rise could be due to reduced bin collections. Pictured: A rat-infested rubbish dump behind a house in Stoke-on-Trent

In June, the British Pest Control Association revealed more than half of UK rat catchers had seen a surge in complaints about infestations since the beginning of lockdown.

Rat catcher Martin Kirkbride, from Openshaw, Manchester, told The Telegraph he had witnessed a surge in cases in recent weeks. 

He said: ‘They live with us and are here because of us. The more people there are, the more food there is for the rats.’  

Meanwhile Professor Steven Belmain, who works at the Natural Resources Institute in Greenwich, described how rodents were now seeking new feeding sites and moving into residential areas.  

He told The Telegraph: ‘What is happening is they are moving into residential areas and finding food sources there, so deciding to make it home.’ 

Top tips for preventing and dealing with rodent infestations


  • Mouse droppings are relatively easy to identify – the droppings themselves are about the size of a grain of rice.
  • You can also tell whether you have a current or historic infestation by putting on some gloves and picking them up. If the droppings crumble to dust, they are old. If they are soft, it is a sign they are new, and there is more likely to be an active problem.
  • Mouse urine has an ammonia-type smell and it will be left in a trail.
  • You might spot chewed-up nesting materials like cardboard and bitten food containers. You may also hear scurrying sounds in the walls or on the floorboards.
  •  Find the access point. If you take off the kickboards underneath kitchen units and you can see holes at the back of them, that is probably where the rodents are getting in. So make sure your property is secure, both internally and externally.
  • Limit access to food sources. Do not leave food where mice can get it. Clean thoroughly every time you cook, and do not leave any easily accessible food in the lower cupboards of your kitchen.
  • Act quickly. You could well make the situation worse if you leave it, because mice can breed very quickly. If you do not have home emergency or specialist cover in place, give yourself a maximum of a week to attempt any DIY remedies before calling a pest control company.
  • Once you have got rid of an infestation, make sure mice do not come back. Do not leave food out, make sure access points are blocked, secure your bins, ensure bird feeders are placed up high and away from entrances, and make sure there is no litter around your property.


  • The advice for rats is similar. But rats are far bigger and can cause more damage with their gnawing teeth.
  • Rats can also pass on Weil’s disease through their urine, which, according to the NHS website, can cause symptoms in people such as a high temperature, sickness and, in serious cases, shortness of breath and coughing up blood.
  • To avoid problems, focus on drainage and sewage pipes. There may be no obvious entry points when you have rats, so experts may advise a drain survey.
  • Rats often travel from garden to garden. They are also attracted to litter, so it is important to keep your outdoor space tidy.

Source: Aviva

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