Pensioner’s nightmare five-year battle with rat plague where rodents pop up in her loo


Mary Branch, 75, says rats have been entering her home since September 2017 and claims to have killed two rats a day and spends £13.75 a week on poison

Mary Branch, 75, says rats have been entering her home since September 2017
Mary Branch, 75, says rats have been entering her home since September 2017

A pensioner has battled with a plague of rats at her home for more than four years and says some come from through the loo.

Mary Branch, 75, has lived in her Bideford home since April 2014 and claims rats have been entering since September 2017.

She says the ongoing infestation is having an impact on her and her animals ‘ lives, DevonLive reports.

She believes the rats are entering her garden to drink from her pond and have built nests in neighbouring gardens and nearby cemetery, which is maintained by Torridge District Council.

Mary said: “I think it’s gotten worse because I’m the only one dealing with it. There are rats coming in either side of me and there’s been a lot of people camping out and fly-tipping in the Old Town Cemetery.

She added: “Every day, I’m killing rats. You report them to Torridge District Council and they say they are not allowed to deal with rats – you must deal with them. Nobody has done any investigation at all.”

Mary says she kills at least two rats a day and spent £13.75 a week on rat poison
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DevonLive)

Mary says she kills at least two rats a day and spent £13.75 a week on rat poison using her pension.

Mary says she cannot afford pest control.

She said: “I’ve bought and laid out 330 blocks since June 21st, so that gives you an idea of how many I’ve had to kill. In the end, you get ashamed buying so many rat blocks because people must think I am dirty and I’m not.

“I was shocked last night because I was thinking about the number of receipts I must have and how much I must have spent.”

She says she has discovered possible entry points in her house such as holes in her walls, under her door and through her cat’s door. She often sees droppings full of poison.

Mary says she has found six live rats in her toilet, including this one from February 2021
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Since 2018, Mary says she has found six live rats in her loo and has seen wet paw prints in her bathroom, leading her to believe they are also entering the house through her drains.

Most recently, she’s found rats have been in her Christmas decorations.

She said: “That was really upsetting because I’ve had to throw most of it away and I was going to decorate the house with my great-granddaughter.”

“When I hear myself talking, I cannot believe what I’ve been through. It seems so unreal. It’s as if older people are invisible and their lives don’t matter.”

Mary says the rats have a huge impact on her pets, and she says she has lost six indoor cats to mysterious illnesses and suspects the deaths to be a result of the environment created by the rats.

Mary says she often finds rat excrement full of the poison she has laid out
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DevonLive)

In July 2021 she had to rush two of her dogs to the vets after they accidentally ate rat poison that blew onto the floor.

She said: “My dogs were faster than I was and it cost £547 in vet costs. I panicked and was really angry because I thought I should have held both the bag and the trap but with a crippled hand, a lock and a key, it was not possible.”

She added: “If I hear one of my animals playing, I get worried that they are playing with a rat and not each other. I’m terrified they are going to come indoors.”

She is so desperate for help that she has put up notices on her window explaining how many rats she has killed.

She said: “I’ve kept telling the council I can’t do this and I’m struggling – I’ve struggled and struggled.

“I am diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica, which is caused by stress. They can’t expect me to keep doing this.

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“I love wildlife and every time I see a tadpole or a squirrel in my garden, it makes me smile.

“With rats, I think it’s probably the destruction and the fact that they’ve maimed and killed my animals that makes me hate them. They are ruthless animals.”

A spokesperson for Torridge District Council said: “While Torridge District Council do not operate a pest control service, the Council’s Environmental Protection Team offer advice and support to residents experiencing problems with vermin, and have formal authority to take action where significant issues are arising from adjacent premises.

“The team advise that they have been in frequent contact with Mrs Branch with regard to her complaints of rat infestation at her property, and wider issues she has raised, and much time has been spent communicating with her and her neighbours and visiting properties.

“We have not been able to substantiate the complaints of significant numbers of rats; no other complaints have been received from or in the vicinity of Meddon Street and we have contacted a number of residents directly specifically to try to substantiate this matter. Old Town Cemetery has been inspected and is clear of fly-tipping, food sources or any evidence of infestation such as rat tunnels or harbourage; an infestation on this scale should be readily apparent.

“The council has not found any evidence of a rat infestation at the complainant’s property, including sight of killed vermin, despite requests to the resident. We have also not been provided with any report from a pest control company, confirming a visit or an infestation.

“We take reports of vermin seriously and regularly investigate and resolve complaints through our public health powers, however on this occasion and despite our efforts, we have not been able to substantiate this residents complaint.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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