A WARNING has been issued over mutant rats which are resistant to poison.

Worcestershire residents are among those who are being told to be cautious of "a generation of rats carrying a genetic mutation which makes them resistant to conventional poison".

The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) says it is more important than ever to be protected professionally in light of the findings in a new study by the University of Reading.

Following the report, commissioned by the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use, Dee Ward-Thompson, from the BPCA, said: “The study highlights the fact that resistance is growing in rat species across a swathe of the country.

“It also reports that rats without the genetic mutation are being killed off by poison, so the resistant species are taking their place, leaving a growing population of resistant pure-breds.

“With their numbers expanding there could be a significant risk to public health if their population is left unchecked, in both urban and rural environments.”

Ms Ward-Thompson added: “The rise in resistance could be due to a number of factors.

“However, it is most likely the spread has been accelerated by the application of rodenticides, by amateurs such as home and business owners doing it themselves, or employing an unqualified individual to try to resolve the problem.

“The clear message is that, to be effective in tackling this issue, people should not attempt to self-treat rats.

“By employing a member company through the BPCA referral service, the public can be sure they’re using a qualified technician who is able to purchase and apply relevant products that can tackle such issues of resistance."