Rentokil has revealed how a pair of rats could produce nearly half a billion descendants in just three years.
The interactive project, named “The Rise of The Rats,” visualizes the rapid rate at which rats reproduce, and warns how quickly a rat infestation can spiral out of control.
Ehrlich Pest Control, a Rentokil brand, saw an 86 percent increase in the number of rat-related callouts (service calls) from 2015 to 2016. This trend was mirrored in cities around the world, with Paris closing nine parks and green spaces as part of a major anti-rat campaign.
“The Rise of The Rats” explains the breeding cycle of a brown rat living in an ideal environment. A female rat typically births six litters a year consisting of up to 12 rat pups, although five to 10 pups are more common. Rats reach sexual maturity after four to five weeks, meaning a population can swell from two rats to around 1,250 in one year, with the potential to grow exponentially.
“If we were to do nothing, we would be overrun by rats,” warns Dr. Andy Brigham, general technical manager, Science and Service, Rentokil Initial. “Their breeding strategy is very different compared to that of humans. It is characterized by quantity over quality. They produce very large numbers of offspring on the basis that at least some will survive long enough to produce their own litters.”
“If there is sufficient space and food, they have the potential to rapidly explode in numbers to exploit that,” Dr. Brigham adds.
“But mortality is high whenever food or space is limited, and factors such as disease, starvation, predation, and our own pest control efforts help to keep the rate of growth in check.”