HOMEOWNERS are being urged to guard against an invasion of rats this autumn.

Pest experts fear numbers could soar in the next few months, boosted by a combination of cooler temperatures and increasingly wet weather.

The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has said the onset of colder conditions prompts the rodents to abandon their summer habitats and seek food and shelter indoors.

Dee Ward-Thompson, BPCA technical manager, added: “Rain washes rats out of sewers and other nesting places and, inevitably, they go looking for shelter in higher ground.

“They’ll try to find some sort of dwelling and that could be lofts, garages or sheds.”