Weil’s Disease on the allotment

RatWeil’s disease (Leptospirosis) is a disease humans can catch from rats through water or wet vegetation contaminated with rat urine. Rats also transmit salmonella. Prevention is a matter of good practice and common sense.

  • Discourage rats by securing compost in bins and not putting cooked food on the compost heap.
  • Rat-proof compost bins with wire mesh if necessary.
  • To reduce the risks from salmonella avoid using rat-infested compost on edible crops, especially those not cooked before consumption.
  • Protect from water-borne diseases such as Weil’s disease by wearing waterproof gloves, clothing and boots when clearing out ponds.
  • Always wash your hands after gardening and especially before eating.
  • Keep a hand sterilising gel down in the potting shed if clean water is not available.
  • If you have poultry or pigeons on your allotment then you should ensure that foodstuffs are securely stored in a way that prevents access by rodents
  • In the case of poultry or pigeon keeping, your feeding routines should be ones which ensure that only your livestock can access the food.

Anyone who thinks that they have rats on their allotments should firstly secure all compost bins as above and dispose of unwanted rubbish which could provide shelter for rodents such as rats. If you need to take your rubbish to the tip then do so.

Of course there is some rubbish that you can dispose of by burning but please observe the good practice concerning fires on allotments so that you do not cause unwanted damage to your plot or that of your neighbours or otherwise cause undue upset in the area.

Also sheds, cold frames and other storage spaces should be inspected and secured so that they do not allow access and provide shelter for rats (or mice or other unwanted rodents) in severe winter weather.

You can talk to your allotment committee if you need further advice on a rat problem as it could be that these are coming in from neighbouring houses/factories/buildings rather than from the allotment site itself.

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