Dwell Well > Improving > Dealing with Pests (Including Mice, Rats, Bed Bugs and Fleas) in Your Home

Dealing with Pests (Including Mice, Rats, Bed Bugs and Fleas) in Your Home

Pests  - A home-owner, home-mover and home-buyers guide!

Pests, they come in all shapes and sizes and they can be a really big problem. From rats and mice to bed bugs and cockroaches these little and not so little creatures can be scary, costly and downright horrible when they appear in a home, but half the battle is knowing they are there in the first place. Identifying you have a problem in your home is important but if you are looking to move home it is also critical you are aware of any warning signs so you don’t end up literally buying someone else’s problem. While we may think we live in homes that are safe from the outside we are often very exposed to pests and in some cases they are literally searching out our houses to live in. Rats, for example, may become more common in the home as winter rain and flooding becomes more common.

Whether you are a homeowner or you are viewing a property the key indicators of pests are the same. The challenge when viewing a property is that you have far less time to check and this can make it very hard to spot certain pests. Below is a list of the key factors to watch out for when you are worried about pests in the UK.


Probably the most infamous pest we have in the UK, the not so humble rat has been living around humans for a very long time. With some 120 million rats in the UK they really are very common. Rat droppings are quite large, over a centimetre in length with tapered ends and a dark brown colour. They are pretty easy to spot on carpets etc. Look out for gnaw marks on cupboard or external entrances like back doors. If there is dust, perhaps in a vacant property, you can spot tail marks and footprints too. Rats are not tiny animals so they can be heard running around in the walls or roof, but you may not notice on a quick viewing of a new home what you would in your own home in terms of odd noises. Look for damaged food items too! Rats have amazing teeth and can gnaw through bins and a lot more.


In many ways a little less scary than rats this almost cute little things can be just as problematic. They can get into very small gaps and will come looking for food. Key signs, just like rats are droppings which are much smaller but still dark brown. Also look out for damage to food containers like cereal boxes. Again, like rats, look for footprints in dusty areas of spilled food. While they are smaller you can still here them moving around in cavity walls and the like. If there are lots of mice you also get urine pillars…yes, that’s right! These are 4cm high lumps of essentially body grease and wee! They build up over time where mice travel the same path a lot…not so cute after all!

Beg Bugs

No more mammals, we are down to the really horrible things now! Bed bugs are real, and they are common in the UK. They may sound like something from a movie or some kind myth, but these little insects live in your bed, bite you and drink your blood. They can infest a property quickly but knowing they are there is quite hard unless you live there. You may see little brown marks on your bed sheets, drops of blood and bite marks on your skin, all of which are strong indicators. However, when viewing a new home you are not likely to sleep over, nor are you likely to look at someone’s bed sheets.


Staying with small biting things, fleas are more well known and just as horrible. They generally come from pets but can take hold quite easily. Flea poo can look like tiny brown spots like fresh filter coffee. One good way to test for them is to walk through a carpet with white socks on then shine a torch on your feet…if you have them you should see them but it’s not a pleasant experience. Check pets for flea bites and poo and be aware of any bites on people too. Be aware if viewing a home that has a lot of pets it could be an issue and possibly bring a torch to have a discreet check of furnishings near pet beds if you are worried.


Another insect that people in the UK think only exists in other countries. Cockroaches are actually quite common in the UK. The Oriental and smaller German cockroach being the main offenders. Like most other pests they can carry disease and you really don’t want them around. The best way to find out if you have a cockroach problem is when you see them. They are easy to spot and pretty brave so keep an eye out! They also poo on walls! If there is water around it looks like a brown smear if not then little brown granules. They will try and eat leather, paper and anything else so look out for damage. Also, be aware of any strange smells, cockroach infestations do smell so an important one when viewing a property.

What Do I Do?

Well, if you think you have any of the above pests you have two choices. You can try and deal with it yourself or call the professionals. Poisons can be effective as can traps for rats and mice but be careful of kids and pets and remember, you may have to deal with some dead animals in traps or worse…like in a cavity wall.  By opting to call in the professionals you will have a much better bet of getting rid of the problem and it does mean you don’t have to get your hands dirty. It also means you don’t have to deal with poisons and other control methods. Pest control experts know where pests live and how to deal with them.

If you are viewing a property and you feel there could be an issue it is advisable to contact a local pest control company and ask if they can do a survey. Just like a building survey most professional experts will be able to come and have a look and spot many of the signs. They may not be able to give you a guarantee but if the problem is bad, they will spot it. You can then negotiate with the vendor about dealing with it or you may choose to simply move on and look at other places.

This article has been written for us by Aaron James. Aaron is a  freelance writer based in Sussex specialising in Lifestyle and Business.

Live well with Moving and Improving


Click below to start your quote


Mortgage Brokers

Sign up to our newsletter!

No matter if you are moving, or improving, our newsletter is packed with the best tips, tricks and ideas to help you dwell well.