The U.K.’s wetter-than-usual weather is driving rats and mice indoors in a potential threat to grain stocks, the country’s Home-Grown Cereals Authority said.
Rodent sightings have increased, and exterminators are getting more calls than usual for the time of the year, according to Richard Mosely, technical manager at the British Pest Control Association, the HGCA wrote in an online statement.
The U.K. received the most rain in June, July and August for any summer since 1912, and in September some areas in the north had more than a month’s worth of rain over two days, the Met Office reported. More than 400 properties across the country flooded at the end of September, according to the U.K. Environment Agency.
“The wet weather has caused rodents’ usual habitats to become waterlogged, forcing them to move from fields to buildings earlier than normal,” the HGCA wrote. “Rodent numbers have probably not increased but a displacement of rodent activity from sewers, streams and river banks to drier places means that farmers’ grain stores could be a risk.”
Adult rats can eat about 50 pounds of grain a year and mice about 2 pounds, and severe infestation in grain stores can cause “substantial” profit loss, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Brown rats and house mice leave 20 to 50 droppings a day, and feces and urine left by rodents pose the greatest threat to stored grain, according to the university.
The U.K. wheat harvest, the European Union’s third-largest, may be 13.3 million metric tons this year, down from a five-year average of 14.9 million tons as wet weather hurt yields, the National Farmers Union reported yesterday.