Bristol City Council dealt with thousands of rodent infestations last year
Bristol City Council was called out to deal with thousands of rodent infestations last year, new figures show.
The British Pest Control Association said pest management is vital to maintaining people's health and wellbeing, but the high cost of services often leads to ineffective DIY methods.
Freedom of information requests by Direct Line Home Insurance show Bristol City Council tackled 3,057 rodent infestations in 2022 – down from 3,777 the year before.
It was also down from 4,317 infestations recorded in 2020.
Ian Andrew, chief executive at the British Pest Control Association, said rodents are a "serious public health pest" with rapid breeding cycles, which means infestations can escalate quickly.
He added: "Unfortunately, being unable to afford pest control increases the likelihood of people either ignoring infestations or attempting DIY pest control methods, which can make the issue worse and endanger other people or non-target species."
Some councils offer free pest control services to residents while most charge for the services.
Mr Andrew said: "Pest management is vital for maintaining the safety, health and wellbeing of people, so it would be great to see something in the UK like the proactive approach New York City are taking, with the appointment of a 'rat tsar'."
New York mayor Eric Adams announced the new role in April as the city tries to tackle its growing rodent problem.
In the UK, a total of 225,400 rodent infestations were dealt with in 2022 by the 181 local authorities which provided data, the equivalent of 618 per day.
It's a slight increase from 221,900 infestations the year before and a 12% increase from 201,900 two years prior when the Government's list of key workers during Covid-19 restrictions included pest management professionals.
Dan Simson, head of Direct Line Home Insurance, said mice and rats pose a real risk to people's homes and health.
"They take advantage of issues like broken pipes, slipped roof tiles or holes in skirting to gain access to a property, often causing serious damage to the structural integrity of a building or belongings," he added.
Of the councils that responded, Swansea Council dealt with most rodents last year with 16,800 infestations tackled. It was followed by Southwark Council (16,700) and Birmingham City Council (12,700).
A Local Government Association spokesperson said councils run pest control services at a cheaper rate for people on low incomes, despite it not being a statutory duty.
"Councils offering pest control services will advise residents on how to treat infestations of pests, and where it is a serious health and safety risk, can take action," they added.
They said this can range from getting rid of the pests or serving a notice ordering landlords to deal with the problem.