Rats on the rise in South Lanarkshire

There would be no arguments that the Covid-19 pandemic has been horrific for humans – all over the globe.

A growing problem with rats in the area has led to a political war of words in South Lanarkshire.

However, it appears that one species has thrived here in South Lanarkshire as a result of the emergency.

Rat numbers in the area were already on the rise prior to Covid but have certainly escalated in recent months.

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The number of rat treatments carried out by the council has rocketed from 482 to in 2017/18 to 1449 in 2020/21, and the numbers in 2021/22 are already sitting at 629.

Now members of the public are being asked to play their part in helping to keep the numbers down.

Shirley Clelland, the council’s head of environmental services, said: “We believe the increase in rat activity during 2020/21 was related to the coronavirus lockdown.

“There was less footfall in urban areas and the night-time economy was closed, resulting in less easily accessible food for rats.

“This is thought to have resulted in the rat population foraging further for food, including residential areas.

“During this period more people were also at home and able to spot signs of rodent activity.

“It is important that householders arrange for infestations to be treated to try and control the rat population. Environmental services encourages members of the public to report rat sightings, to enable the landowner to be made aware of the activity.

“It is beneficial for members of the public to take photographs when possible, to help identify the locations where rodents are spotted.”

The environmental services team can be contacted on 0303 123 1015.

With an 83 per cent increase in rat treatments before the pandemic, Labour believes the rise in rats is a direct consequence of frontline service cuts.

Councillor Joe Fagan, Opposition Leader in South Lanarkshire, said: “These figures show that we went into the pandemic with a serious rat problem and it only got worse during lockdown.

"Covid undoubtedly affected our local services but it doesn’t explain why the council nearly doubled the number of rat treatments before the pandemic struck.

“Labour councillors believe the rise of rats on our streets is a consequence of the SNP’s cuts.”

However, an SNP spokesman hit back at the claim.

He said: “This is utter nonsense from the Labour Party.

“The increase in call-outs was due to lockdown, not SNP cuts. If it had been due to lack of funding, we would not have been able to increase capacity at the scale outlined by the council.

“The reality is that there is an election a few months from now and the Labour Party will stop at nothing to try to win a few votes.

"However, as has been the case in the past, mudslinging of this nature will do them no favours.”