HEAVY rain has brought some unwelcome visitors to Seaham.
While the recent flash floods have brought chaos to roads, homes and businesses, they have also washed up colonies of rats.
The vermin have been forced out of sewers due to heavy rain in recent weeks.
In East Durham almost 100 more reports have been made to Durham County Council during the same six-month period at the start of this year compared to 2011.
Dave Riseley, the council’s education and enforcement manager, said: “Figures show a small rise in the number of reports of rat infestations we received this spring compared to the same time last year.
“It is very unlikely though there has been an increase in the rat population.
“We launched our commercial pest control service in April and the higher profile of the service may have increased the number of calls we received. In addition, the heavy rainfall could have forced rats out of the sewers, which would have increased sightings.”
The seafront area including Terrace Green, where the Echo captured these shots of a rat diving in and out of bins – and the town centre are known as hot spots for the rodents.
Mr Riseley added: “The council investigates all reports of rat infestations.
“However, current legislation does not allow us to treat public open spaces because of the restrictions over the chemicals used.
“We do treat properties adjacent to sites where infestations have been reported and also now offer one-off treatments for commercial customers as well as yearly contracts with pre-planned visits.”
Figures show that from January 2011 to June that year, 499 reports were made across East Durham, with 598 made during the same six months this year.
In Seaham 122 reports were made during the first half-year period last year, with 157 made between January and June this year.
RATS and mice carry a range of diseases which can be passed on to people by contaminating food or surfaces with urine, droppings and hair.
Leptospirosis, a disease that can lead to Weil’s disease and can be fatal to humans, is one which can be spread by rats in particular.
They can also cause damage to property, which can cause fire or electrocution.
Signs to look out for, besides spotting the pests, include holes and burrows, damage and gnawing, droppings, footprints and a musky smell.
If concerned, try blocking any holes with newspaper and come back 24 hours later to see which holes have been re-opened.
If they have, these should be permanently sealed.