sewer rats

Things You Never Knew About London Sewer Rats

Although this might sound like a slightly bizarre thing to say, London sewer rats are actually fascinating creatures. They are an intrinsic part of London’s history and their lives are intertwined with the humans that live above them. When we are not in London inside people’s homes and businesses doing rat control and eradication, we do like a fascinating rat fact.

Here are 9 facts about London sewer rats you never knew

 1. London sewer rats are immune to poison

After decades of being poisoned by exterminators London sewer rats are almost completely immune. While this might sound like a science fiction movie it’s true and has been confirmed by scientists who study rats. According to them this is because the rats have genetically mutated to the point poison no longer affects them. This is just one of the reasons why modern exterminators use traps instead of poison to kill rats.

2. They can come up through your toilet

Believe it or not these London sewer rats are capable of getting into your house through the toilet. While it may not seem like it, rats are fantastic swimmers. They can swim through the network of pipes which make up the sewer systems and enter your house. This sounds almost unbelievable but there have been dozens of examples where people found full grown rats in their bathroom. This is why it’s probably a good idea to keep the toilet lid down.

rat in toilet

3. Females can have up to 50 babies per year

London sewer rats are able to breed at a phenomenal speed. Female rats have the ability to give birth to about 50 babies in a twelve-month period.

4. London produces 1000s of rat complaints

Every year the city gets more than 100,000 complaints about rats. In fact, last year the authorities in Tower Hamlets East London pest control department received over 30,000. This works out to about 80 a day – which is rather a lot if you think about it. Other places like Camden and Lambeth received about 10,000. With this many complaints, London rat catchers are constantly kept busy.

5. They build their nests from flushed items

Everything that goes down the toilet ends up in their nests. This includes sanitary products, ear buds and toilet wipes. No wonder these creatures are seen as utterly foul and disgusting.

Closeup of a rat looking toward the camera from sewer

6. London sewer rats teeth never stop growing

One of the reasons why rats are always gnawing is because their teeth never stop growing. In order to keep their teeth from growing through the skull, rats are forced to constantly gnaw on things.

7. Rats are able to climb vertical walls

As well as being able to swim, rats are also able to climb walls. They can do this due to the powerful claws on their feet and hands. These act as grappling hooks and allow rats to climb even vertical surfaces.

Dirty urban sewage flowing throw round sewer tunnel pipe

8. The 6 feet from London sewer rats myth

There’s an old saying that in London you are never more than six feet from a rat. This saying is born from the belief that there are hundreds of rats scurrying through the pipes beneath our feet. Fortunately this simply isn’t true. Although there are probably millions of rats in the sewers, most of them are hidden far away from human beings.

9. There is no such thing as giant sewer rats

A popular urban legend is that of giant rats in the sewers. But is this really true? Are there gigantic rats living in the darkest recess of the sewer system? According to experts – no. While the rats which live in sewers can grow up to about 25cm, there is no such thing as, “Giant” sewer rats.