Frodsham and Helsby is the rat capital of the borough, according to a Freedom of Information (FOI) response.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s pest control team logged 84 requests to deal with rats from residents living in the WA6 postcode from January to mid-November.
The FOI details have been released after the Daily Mirror claimed there was a rat problem in Chester with talk of ‘giant rodents running riot in the leafy suburb of Boughton’.
Pest controller Dave Oldfield of Mickle Trafford-based Oldfield Environmental, once caught a rat with a terrier that was so big he considered having it stuffed.
Explaining how rats grow so large, he said: “They’ve got to have a good food source. It’s like a weight lifter. Sometimes they get high protein foods and that’s it. It’s not good overall for a rat to be big because it can’t get away in the smaller areas.”
The FOI response reveals CH2, including the apparent rat hotspot of Boughton, generated the second highest number of rat-related calls at 83, followed by CH3 with 80 and CH1 with 77.
Dave, who uses traps and bait boxes containing poison, commented: “I was in Boughton the other day doing rats. There’s plenty of them there and you’ve got the river not far away.”
Dave appeared on the TV show Clarissa and the Countryman with the late Clarissa Dickson Wright several years ago.
He was unsurprised by the large number of rats reported in the Frodsham and Helsby area.
“You’ve got Frodsham Marshes, haven’t you? All you need is a few barns or a bit of grain spilt and they don’t half build up,” said Dave, who once dealt with a problem in the city centre.
“I lifted up the earth sewer for the council some years ago behind what was the Viking restaurant. They were blinking. They hadn’t seen the light. They just looked up, never scattered.”
“They cause millions of pounds worth of damage every year and the it’s the diseases they carry, leptospirosis, Weil’s disease, that’s a common one. It will kill us that. It will kill us in about 14 days. They can cure it with penicillin if they get it quick enough.”
Dave said rats are ‘clever’ and stick close to humans knowing we provide a valuable food source. They are omnivores meaning they will ‘eat anything’, both meat and vegetation. And rats are like ‘breeding factories’, meaning it is difficult to control their numbers. They are also incontinent so can contaminate everything in sight. And those sharp teeth just keep on growing.
“They can chew through concrete, get through a door in a night. A two inch door, no problem. They’ve got to keep gnawing. That’s what makes them rodents,”’ explained Dave, who has never been attacked.
“I’ve had rats run up me, hang on my ears and one on my shoulder, to get away from the dogs but not bite me. They can jump three feet high and six feet across.
“The commonest here is Rattus norvegicus, the brown rat, but also in this town, which is very very rare, is the black rat, Rattus rattus. That’s the one that carried the bubonic plague. I still get them in Chester. There’s no plague here now but there is in America.”
According to the FOI, the most common reason to dial the council pest control number was for wasps in homes and gardens – they accounted for 288 calls the team received.
Cheshire West and Chester’s pest control unit deals with rats, mice, cockroaches and other vermin.
The unit charges £25 to remove rats and mice, £60 to deal with wasps, cockroaches and ants and £96 to deal with bed bugs, beetles, flies and fleas.