Rat infestations are on the rise in the heart of the Capital, with pest control firms warning people to take action to stop their homes being overrun with vermin.
As well as the well-documented lure of overflowing bins in city centre streets, rats are also being drawn to more unlikely items such as bird feeders and garden decking.
And exterminators said the problems were getting worse, with residents in tenement flats often failing to alert neighbours.
Sylvia Hill, who runs Wee Critters Pest Control with husband Graeme and son Andrew Carral, said the number of call-outs for rat infestations were up about 37 per cent year-on-year.
She put it down in part to tenement flat residents not speaking to their neighbours about a potentially wider infestation before calling out pest control specialists.
She said: “Because Edinburgh is such a buy-to-let area, people don’t talk to their neighbours. Edinburgh is a university town, with flats rented out by students.”
Mrs Hill added there was a particular issue with rats in the New Town and Old Town areas of the Capital, adding: “There is too much rubbish lying about the centre of Edinburgh.
“We’re now into April. Generally we’re busier with rats in winter, but it’s still as busy as ever.”
Meanwhile, in suburban districts, rats nesting under garden decking and feeding off bird feeders are increasing problems.
Mrs Hill said: “You see rats hanging from the bird feeders. People don’t want to stop feeding the birds, but they are encouraging rats.”
She said the small family firm was having to turn down jobs in the Lothians because it is so busy in central Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, David Gribbin, owner of Edinburgh Pest Control, had similar concerns.
He said: “This used to be just a winter thing. Now we’re seeing rats right through the year.”
Mr Gribbin claimed sewers were now treated on a “reactive rather than proactive” basis, attracting rats above ground.
He added: “It’s just getting out of hand.”
He said rats can squeeze through gaps the size of a ten pence piece, and are “tremendous climbers” who often end up in top-floor flats, and added another concern was the resistance rats can build up to poisons used by pest control teams. Despite the concerns, Edinburgh City Council said there was nothing to be alarmed about.
A spokeswoman said: “We can reassure the public that the city’s vermin population is largely stable and under control and figures continue to show a decline in the number of complaints from the public regarding rats.”
If anyone living in a tenement block suspects a rat infestation, they should speak to their neighbours to assess the scale of the problem. Where possible, avoid leaving rubbish lying in an open space where it could attract the rodents.
People installing decking in their gardens should regularly check underneath for signs of nesting rats, and householders should also consider removing bird feeders if they suspect rats are living nearby.