THERE are more rats living in Oxford than people.

The population of rats in the city has increased to an estimated 331,880 in 2020.

Rats have seemingly enjoyed a bumper year, breeding during lockdown and making nests in vacant buildings and rural areas with lots of waste.

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Rats can typically have six litters of between six and 12 pups each year – meaning one rat has the potential to make 72 babies a year.

Oxford pest control company said they have been to nearly a quarter more call outs about the rodents than last year.

From research, the company estimates the number of rats in each area:

  • Oxford - 331,880
  • Abingdon - 73,204
  • Bicester - 72,125
  • Witney - 60,812

Jenny Rathbone from the company said: “They say you are only ever 6ft away from a rat – and in typical 2020 fashion it’s now more likely in Oxford than ever!

“We are seeing huge increase in rat problems throughout Oxford as lockdown really helped them breed in relative peace with closed properties and poor waste management practises providing them with plentiful food and shelter.

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“The problem we have right now is that rats are trying to bed down for winter, and this will happen when we get a few cold snaps.

“The thing to remember is rats need food and shelter to breed, so any food source should be quickly cleaned away – keeping bin and yard areas clean and tidy is keeping rats under control.”

Tips for keeping rats away:

  1. Block up holes – fill any gaps in brickwork, shed doors and floors
  2. Clear cupboard – empty unused cupboards of bags, clothes and rags
  3. Secure all food – make sure food is not left out and clean worktops of crumbs