Insects and pests: when your council can help
Your council is usually only able to help you get rid of certain pests.
Every council varies in the pest control service it provides. Belfast City Council provides a free control service for most pests. Other councils will simply provide advice or control for a fee. Contact your local council to check its pest control provision.
Typically, councils will help you to get rid of some or all of the following:
- carpet beetles
Councils don’t usually help with controlling animals such as foxes, rabbits or grey squirrels.
Local councils also have powers to make sure people take all necessary steps to deal with pests in their property.
Mice and rats
Mice and rats are common pests in the home. They are normally active at night and you might not see them during the day.
A key sign you have mice is finding food, packaging or other material that has been nibbled and small droppings. You may also find nests, which look like balls of material loosely woven together.
The most common sign of rats is droppings, along with evidence of gnawing, tracks, burrows and nests.
Health and safety risks from mice and rats
Mice and rats can carry a wide range of diseases. These can be passed on to humans by contaminating food or surfaces with urine, droppings and hairs. Rats, in particular, can pass on leptospirosis - a disease that can lead to Weil’s disease and can be fatal to humans.
Rats can also cause structural damage to property. They can gnaw electric cables and wiring which could cause fire or electrocution.
Reduce the risk of mice and rats in your home
Mice and rat infestations can be avoided by blocking access to your home:
- check air bricks are in place and intact - don’t block them
- look for access points around gas, electricity and water pipes
- check that doors fit tightly
- fit cone guards and balloon guards to drainpipes to stop rats climbing up – these are available from hardware or DIY stores
- make sure drain covers and grilles are in place and not damaged
Improved hygiene will discourage mice and rats by restricting their food:
- store food carefully so mice and rats don’t have access
- sweep up spills immediately
- remove rubbish
- clean under work units and other areas where food debris builds up
- keep the garden free of food debris
- don’t compost meat, fish, bones or bread, as these attract vermin
- avoid over feeding wild birds or a build-up of food residues
Controlling mice and rats yourself
The first step to controlling mice and rats is to find out where they are living and feeding and their routes between these areas. Look for:
- holes and burrows
- damage and gnawing
- a musky smell
Block any holes you find with newspaper and come back 24 hours later to see which holes have been reopened. You can then permanently seal all access holes and routes.
If you have fleas in your home, try to identify the source of the problem. In many cases this is a family pet.
To treat fleas on your pet, use an insecticide aerosol spray, pour-on product or a tablet. For more information about the product, ask your vet or the pest control officer in your local council.
Alternatively, the pest control officer can treat your premises using insecticides and products that stop flea development.
Trying to get rid of bedbugs yourself is unlikely to work. If you find bedbugs in your home, contact your local council’s pest control service immediately or a private pest controller.
Grey squirrels are an introduced species that are common in Northern Ireland. They can cause damage and fires when they access buildings and chew electrical wiring.
Advice is available on the following page: