The number of rat, bed bug and cockroach infestations reported to Swindon’s pest control service increased by 57 per cent from 2022 to 2023.

Figures acquired through a freedom of information request show the total number of domestic visits to tackle infestations of pests rose from 80 to 126.

The most common pest was rats and mice, which as a general rule make up 70 per cent of cases, according to Swindon Borough Council.

And 13 per cent of cases were bed bugs, while three per cent were cockroaches with the remaining 14 per cent due to wasps and fleas.

The general rule means that the council dealt with approximately 88 rat infestations in 2023, around 32 more than 2022.

The British Pest Control Association (BCPA) website explains the dangers of rats in the home: “Rats communicate and mark their territory by urinating everywhere they go.”

Rats can carry diseases such as salmonella, leading to diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting and their faeces can contaminate food preparation areas. 

The BPCA adds: “Aside from the health risks, the sound of them scuttling around the home, the evidence of their presence and the damage they can cause do little to help householders sleep easy.”

With the rise in cases, the council expense has risen from £7920 to £12,474 in 2022 to 2023.

In 2023 this works out as £99 per call-out, although the council provides pest control services free of charge.

The 2022 pest response figure was a large drop from 112 call-outs in 2021, with a council spokesperson saying: “The 2022 figure is more of an outlier as an unusually quiet year with 2023 returning to the norm. 

“Any change could be down to a variety of reasons including people accessing our service or seasonal changes in pests.”

To minimise the risk of rats, the BCPA advises homeowners to plug entry holes, remove nesting and cut off food sources, such as bird feed and food waste.

It recommends that if you feed garden birds, do not do this to excess, and take in food sources at dusk.

Businesses in central Swindon recently complained that excessive feeding of pigeons near the Tented Market could be attracting rats to the area.

They asked that people do not feed the birds, having seen people scatter whole loaves of bread on the ground outside their shops.

Domestic rat issues could become less of an issue as warmer weather leads to rats remaining outdoors.