1xmasHomeowners are being urged to be on their guard as potential sub-zero temperatures threaten to spark a plague of rats over Christmas. Weather forecasters expect a polar vortex from the Arctic to send temperatures plummeting in the next few weeks.

And pest experts fear a combination of icy conditions and over-flowing dustbins could lead to a huge spike in the number of unwanted visitors during the holiday period. The British Pest Control Association believes the double attraction of food and warmth has the potential to lead to big problems:

“Quite apart from the health risks, they’ll foul water tanks and chew on wood or electrical wires which can cause a lot of damage and poses a fire hazard.”

A typical home may have more than a dozen potential entry points for rats, which can transmit a variety of diseases to humans. They get through gaps as small as 2cm, often using plumbing pipes and unscreened vents or gaps in the eaves and roof edges.