Glasgow facing 'public health crisis' as rodent infestations surge

New figures show the city's local authority dealt with 10,323 rat and mice infestations in 2022, up 31%.

Glasgow saw a 31% increase in the number of rodent infestations last year, according to new figures published on Wednesday.

The city’s local authority dealt with 10,323 residential reports in 2022, compared with 7,894 in 2021.

Unions say Glasgow is now facing a public health crisis.

Chris Mitchell, GMB convenor for Glasgow, said: “I have been highlighting this for three years but I’ve been called a liar and a fabricator. I knew this was going to come as my members have been reporting an increase in rat infestations.

“The council continued to cut vital services when there was a crisis (lockdown), and now they have a full-blown public health crisis.

“The Scottish Government and the council need to take full responsibility for this. If you cut environmental health, if you cut cleansing, it is a perfect storm.

“There are rats in every city but it is the sheer amount of them in Glasgow.

“New York has recently appointed a rats czar and they have indicated how important that role is – it’s 100% something we should be thinking about in Glasgow.

“It’s not nice, people have got in kids in the house and they can’t let them out the back. Furthermore, once the rats are there it is very difficult to get rid of them.”

Mitchell also believes the situation is being made worse by people travelling to fly-tipping hotspots to get rid of their bulk waste. He is calling for more education on improving environmental health to take place and for residents to report these issues so that culprits can be caught.

“Cutting bin collections and introducing a bulk uplift charge, which leads to an increase in fly-tipping, just exacerbates the problem,” he said.

Research conducted by Direct Line Home Insurance shows councils across the UK spent an average of £101,044 dealing with infestations in 2022, bringing the estimated yearly total to £36m.

Last year, local authorities dealt with 226,831 rodent infestations – the equivalent of 621 per day.

That is a significant rise on 2020 when councils dealt with 203,227 infestations – the equivalent of 550 per day.

Direct Line contacted all 32 councils in Scotland but said only ten responded with usable data. Fife and North Lanarkshire also saw a large increase in infestations, rising 34% and 29% respectively.

Public AuthorityCountryResidential visits in 2020Residential visits in 2021Residential visits in 2022Total Visits 2020 – 2022Change YOYChange (per cent)
Fife CouncilScotland2492553428468734
City of GlasgowScotland8,6807,89410,32326,8972,42931
North Lanarkshire CouncilScotland2,7423,4694,46210,67399329
East Ayrshire CouncilScotland6417007292,070294
Edinburgh City CouncilScotland4581,6201,5683,646-52-3
West Dunbartonshire CouncilScotland3,9193,6713,45711,047-214-6
Dundee City CouncilScotland4784674391,384-28-6
West Lothian CouncilScotland9627606962,418-64-8
South Lanarkshire CouncilScotland2,0931,9151,7435,751-172-9
Renfrewshire CouncilScotland1,0581,0126632,733-349-34

Glasgow City Council said almost 3,000 of the infestations reported in 2022 refer to mice – up from 489 in 2021 to 2,936 in 2022.

Reports of rats in living areas have remained broadly stable since 2019 – 1,502 reports compared to 1,537 in 2022.

Meanwhile, reports of rats outside rose during the Covid pandemic, which is believed to be due to the rodents migrating into more residential areas in search of food and people.

Those numbers have since declined slightly, with the council saying the number of rat infestations outside went down last year – 5,850 in 2022 compared to 5,939 in 2021.

Overall, the number of rodent reports received by Glasgow City Council – for both mice and rats – is almost exactly the same as they were pre-Covid – 10,392 in 2019, against 10,323 in 2022.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: ”Glasgow City Council provides a free pest control service for residents to deal with reports of rats or mice.

“Reports from Glasgow residents of rats and mice were slightly lower in 2022 than they were in 2019 and we continue to respond quickly to calls for assistance from members of the public.

“Residents have a vital role in restricting the presence of rodents in and around their property.

“Keeping outdoor areas tidy and well maintained will help to prevent rodents from nesting while ensuring food waste is properly contained will also deter rodents, both indoors and outdoors.”

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