The sewers and drainage systems that we have in the UK are one of the greatest innovations of the Victorian era. They drastically decreased the spread of many diseases that were rife in the inner cities in the UK, as the cities grew, and people flocked there for work.
The industrial revolution saw many new ways to improve and enhance life in the UK and as well as making life better for the human population, the sewers also provided the perfect habitat for one of the most successful mammals ever – rats.
The brown rat is the species that is known for living in and around the sewers – these places provide the perfect environment for them, as they can be near to humans, which provide them with a source of food, as well as in a safe, dark place which is perfect for their population to thrive. Although they are not highly regarded and are often associated with pestilence and plague, you have to admire their ability to adapt.
Nowadays, the ways that we have to manage waste water and ensure that our homes receive adequate drainage as well as a supply of clean water are numerous – from drain lining to water treatment plants. But the sewers under our towns and cities are still providing a home for rats, many of these sewers are the original ones put in place by the Victorians.
Although rats have a bad press, their presence in the sewers and around our homes is not something that we should worry about too much from a disease perspective, however, do keep an eye on pipes and cables as rats can chew through these causing a lot of damage.