A disabled woman who says her house is plagued by rats has been left "petrified" and unable to sleep at night as the vermin scuttle around her home.
Angela Bentley says she has suffered due to the unwelcome visitors at her home in Burton for the last 10 years. And despite visits from a pest control expert every two months, they have always returned bringing her more heartache.
She has even lay awake in bed while rats breed under the floorboards and has been left with no electricity on more than one occasion after they bit through wires, she says.
Miss Bentley has lived in the house for 10 years and says the rats have always been there, but she did not know this when she bought the house. However, it is the last few years when the problem escalated.
She says she knew they were under the floorboards but then managed to gnaw their way through the walls into the kitchen and bathroom, climbing all of her belongings as she lays in bed at night.
Miss Bentley, who is in her early fifties, said she is now desperate for someone to help solve the problem as her physical and mental health is suffering due to the stress.
The cost of getting the pest controller out and repairing the damage the rats cause has left her selling everything she can as she lives on disability benefits and desperately holding on to whatever money she has.
Traps have been set by pest controllers contain poison for the rats and the problem then stops for a few weeks, but then the vermin return, she says.
Her shih tzu dog Louie keeps her company during the times she is alone listening to the rats but they leave him so unsettled and he has even started urinating around the house to mark his territory, she says.
She said: "I sleep with towels under the doors and have to turn all the lights on and stamp my feet if I need to go to the toilet at night to scare them all off. I lie in bed and hear them scurrying about on the floor and I am scared. I have these terrible nightmares that I am eaten alive by rats.
"I don’t sleep well at the best of times but when you have got four-legged creatures running about, it is not easy. I feel safer with Louie in the house.
Miss Bentley suffers with fibromyalgia, chronic osteoarthritis, sciatica, hernias and back problems so having to wash everything constantly is taking away vital energy, leaving her little left to do anything else.
"When I go to cook or make a drink I have to wash everything again but then I don’t know if they have been on the towels I am drying them with or messed in the kettle. It is all these maybes all the time.
"I struggle with tiredness with my disabilities and having to use the energy to wash a cup or plate I have already washed the day before is taking away the energy from other things."
Miss Bentley says she has been shown much kindness by Midland Pest Services which keeps coming back to clear the rats out. Knowing her constant situation and being limited to how they can help with a permanent solution, she believes they cannot be making a profit with what they charge her.
As she owns the house, she has had little other support in getting rid of the rodents and has says she has become trapped as there is no way she can sell the house and move on, leaving the nightmare behind her.
She said: "The guys from Midland Pest Services are fantastic but there are limitations to what they can do under the circumstances as I can’t afford to stay at a hotel for them to do the work. I live in fear of not having any money as if they go through the wiring again I cannot afford to fix it.
"It is stressing me out which aggravates my conditions and makes me more bed bound. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place as I can’t sell the house or move somewhere else and I can’t get social housing as I already have a house. It is just everything on top of everything.
"The whole thing is very isolating as I don’t want people in my house in case they see or hear the rats and if you tell people they don’t want to come round.
"If I hear any noise I am on edge and I fear waking up and finding one in my bed or in in my bedroom funiture. I just changes everything. You feel so dirty as you don’t know what they have touched and I am worried that it is going to make me or Louie sick."
How to spot a rat infestation
There are many ways to spot whether there is a rat infestation in the home and maybe even put a stop to the problem before it gets worse.
It has been found that rats are active at night but in the day may be spotted searching for food, water or shelter. Common rat droppings as capsule-shaped and one will leave around 40 a day.
Ways to spot them:
- Rats follow the same routes when moving around which means that they often leave trails through grass and low vegetation.
- Rats gnaw continually as they need to wear down their front teeth, even on non-food materials such as electrical cables, pipework and wooden fixtures.
- Muddy footprints or little clues on dusty surfaces can also be a big indicators.
- Rats tend to nest in lofts or under floorboards.
Rats are adaptable, highly mobile and breed rapidly to produce large rat infestations so getting rid of them can be problematic without the professionals. Rat poison can be bought at most hardware stores and can take four to 12 days to take effect.
Rat traps can also be put out to catch them, baited with chocolate, biscuit or cereal. It is best to place them where the vermin tend to travel.