While rats are falling prey to poison bait, their numbers are still increasing
People in Bradford are being warned that the city is facing an explosion in the rat population and that it is time to take action.
New figures from Yorkshire Water show how many rats are killed by eating the poison it puts down its sewer manholes.
The statistics show a number of areas in Bradford are badly affected.
Matt Thompson from Yorkshire Water says: "Rats are becoming bolder and they are becoming increasingly prevalent."
Yorkshire Water baits around 100,000 of its manholes with bags of poison. The result of that baiting has revealed the seriousness of the problem faced in Bradford.
Matt Thompson explains: "We are seeing an increase in the bait being taken by rats. There are few particular hotspots, typically around areas where you get a multitude of takeaways.
"In the Manningham area in particular we've seen around 150 'takes' of our bait since April 2009. When you think that we replace that bait on average every three weeks, it's quite a high number.
"We also see high numbers of 'takes' in Bingley and also Shipley."
Fat from cooking is partly blamed for the explosion in rat numbers
Matt believes the reason behind the explosion in rat numbers is due to two main factors: more litter on the streets and people wrongly disposing of cooking fat down the kitchen sink.
Each year, Yorkshire Water faces the task of clearing over 20,000 blockages in sewers and 50 per cent of these incidents are said to be caused by people wrongly disposing of items like fat, oil and grease down the sink.
Matt says: "The explosion in rat numbers is certainly being helped by the fact that there's more food waste dumped on streets and also in the sewer system.
"There are a number of incidents where we have blockages from fat being poured down sinks. That congeals in the sewers and unfortunately hardens and that's quite a tasty snack for rats.
"They like that and they also like being on the surface. Typically rats are found above ground rather than below ground."
Yorkshire Water's approach to controlling the rat population in Bradford is now attracting interest from some surprising places, with a delegation of four Libyan government officials recently visiting the city to see the rat baiting in action.
And while there is no one simple solution to controlling the number of rats in Bradford or anywhere else in West Yorkshire, Matt Thompson believes there is one thing that people can do which would certainly help.
He explains: "We can all play our part. From a sewer perspective, we're just wanting our customers to help us out by not pouring fat down the sink.
"Rather than doing that, wait for it to cool down and harden and then just scrape it into the bin.
"Then we won't have these big blockages in our sewers and hopefully there will be less food down there for the rats to feast on."