It is said that a rat is rarely more than a couple of meters away. We do have a significant number of Rats on the Hamilton Road allotment site.

It is almost impossible to eradicate them as they can breed throughout the year if conditions are suitable, a female producing up to five litters a year. The gestation period is only 21 days, litters of 7 are common and the life span is up to 3 years. The average rat can wriggle through a hole the size of a 10p piece, scale a brick wall, and gnaw through lead pipes and breeze blocks.

Rats carry diseases, including Weil’s Disease. Humans, chickens, other animals and birds can become infected through contact with water, food, or soil containing urine from Rats. This may happen by swallowing contaminated food or water or through skin contact. It is therefore advisable to cover wounds and not allow children to play with water that may have been contaminated. If you become unwell with flu like systems you should inform your doctor that you may have been in contact with Rats; Weil’s Disease can be fatal if not treated correctly.


Discouraging Rats at the allotment site is EVERY PLOT HOLDER’S RESPONSIBILITY.


Please follow the following advice to help prevent them making your plot their home!


  1. Turn the contents of your compost bin regularly (at least twice per year). This not only disturbs any Rats that have taken up residence but also aerates your compost heap which speeds up the process of digestion and reduces the amount of methane (a greenhouse gas) your heap emits.


  1. Plastic compost bins should have a small gauge wire mesh lining at the base or placed on paving slabs to prevent Rats from burrowing in underneath.


  1. Regularly kick your compost bin so that it’s not a peaceful place for Rats to sleep and check they are not taking up residence in your greenhouse or shed!


  1. No household waste!! Never put meat, dairy, bones, cooked foods or other inappropriate items in your compost bin. This will attract Rats and make your bin smell.


  1. Harvest ripe fruit and vegetables promptly and take them home to enjoy (before somebody else eats them!).


  1. Do not leave discarded fruit and vegetables on the ground; clear them away to your compost bin, as these are a source of food for Rats and other pests.


  1. Keep your plot tidy and ensure that your allotment does not become overgrown or allow rubbish to build up e.g., timber, old carpet, stockpiled materials etc, as this provides cover for Rats to live under (harbourage).


  1. Remember to thoroughly wash (and peel if appropriate) any food you harvest. Vegetables with signs of rat damage should be destroyed. Rats carry risk of Weil’s disease (Leptospirosis), Salmonella, Sepsis (infection via open/uncovered wounds) and Hantavirus among other things and they urinate wherever they go!


  1. Sheds must be kept secure and not allow access to Rats and mice. Regular checks should be made to ensure that Rats are not living underneath sheds or gnawing through the sides/corners to make a nest in whatever you have stored inside. Sheds should have a free flow of air under them Rats don’t like draughts and also local cats can hunt under them.


  1. Consider storing seeds, bulbs etc in rodent proof containers


  1. Remove all free water and trays, boxes, etc that can collect water. Rats have to drink water, don’t make it easy for them, the water can also get contaminated by the Rat’s urine which could make you very poorly. Cover all stored water you are going to use for watering.


  1. Do not feed birds or other animals at your plot. If you have chickens, clear up any left-over food as soon as possible, use Rat proof feeders and store all food in Rat proof containers. If you have chickens purchase a Rat box and contact the Allotment Rat Champion for a supply of Rat poison and information on how to correctly use it. Check the Rat box regularly, as advised by the Rat Champion. If you keep bees and leave a water supply out for them, it should be raised off the ground in a container that Rats find difficult to access.


  1. It is advisable to keep a first aid kit to deal with any open wounds, cuts, scratches you may get whilst at the allotment to avoid possible infection.


If, having followed these guidelines, you become aware that there is still a Rat problem on your plot, please contact the Allotment Committee who have a procedure in place to deal with Rats.