Rats are everywhere. Whenever anyone has a conversation about them someone always chips in 'Did you know that there are as many rats as people in the UK?'.
But is this really true and where did this information come from? What is the population of rats in the UK?
This may have originated from the idea that we are only ever 6feet away from a rat. Professor Rob Smith from the University of Huddersfield thinks he knows where this idea came from. He tells us that this idea may have originated from the Ministry of Agriculture at the beginning of the last century. They spread this piece of information probably to promote cleanliness in the home.
The calculations for both of these facts came from a book called 'The Rat Problem' from 1909 by WR Boelter.
In his book he describes how he asked rural people of they considered it likely that there is one rat per acre of land in the UK, to which they agreed. At the time there were 40 million cultivated acres of land in the UK and 40 million population. I have to wonder how this question was put. If I was asked 'Do you think there is a rat per acre of your farm?' by a chap with a notepad I would probably say 'Erm... yes?'.
Dr Dave Cowan used up to date data recently to come up with a figure of approximately 10.5 million; a much more realistic figure.
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