PEST control businesses are expecting a spike in calls about rats this winter after reports of a UK-wide “fly-tipping epidemic”.

Rentokil says that nationally, there was a 34 per cent increase in rodent enquiries in December, when compared to 2018.

The company said that it is possible this increase will continue in January and February as fly-tipping, which is reported to be rising nationally, provides ample food and shelter for rats and mice.

Changing weather patterns are also a “key contributor” to more increased sightings of pests.

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Bolton Council offered the following four simple steps which residents can take to keep their homes pest free.

1. Make sure the exterior of your home is in a good state of repair, any holes in the brickwork should be filled in.

2. Check any outside drains and make sure they are clear, especially the gully outside the kitchen which could trap leftover food.

3. Don’t leave open food accessible anywhere on your property. Make sure all waste is placed securely in your bin or waste receptacle.

4. Clean up any outdoor spillages and repair structural defects in the house to prevent rodents gaining access.