Rentokil, the experts in pest control, have revealed a pair of rats can produce nearly half a billion descendants in just three years.
The interactive project named 'The Rise of The Rats' on Rentokil.com visualises the rapid rate at which rats reproduce, and warns how quickly a rat infestation can spiral out of control.
JC Ehrlich, a Rentokil North American division brand, saw an 86 per cent increase in the number of rat-related callouts 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 12 rat pups, although 5-10 pups is more common. Rats reach sexual maturity after 4-5 weeks, meaning that a population can swell from two rats to around 1,250 in one year, with the potential to grow exponentially.
Dr Andy Brigham, General Technical Manager, Science and Service, Rentokil Initial, says:
"If we were to do nothing we would be overrun by rats. Their breeding strategy is very different to that of humans. It is characterised 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, 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."