Posted by Gemma

The old saying that you are never more than six feet away from a rat is quite frankly terrifying, but is this an accurate assumption?

After all, the government finds it extremely challenging to complete a human Census, so how on earth are we supposed to know exactly how many rodents are living alongside us?

According to Dr Dave Cowan, leader of the wildlife programme at the Food and Environment Research Agency, the assertion that rats are just six feet away from us at all times is thankfully greatly exaggerated.

He told BBC News magazine that rats are "almost completely commensal" with human activity.

The pests often scour urban areas for scraps of food and are not too fussed about where they find nourishment.

Mr Cowan said it is very rare to find rat problems inside properties. In fact, he suggested that fewer than 0.5 per cent of UK dwellings have rats inside them.

This is a comforting statistic for homeowners who are worried about coming face to face with a rodent as they make themselves a cup of tea.

"Around three per cent of our dwellings have rats present outside. We can come up with a figure of 1.5 million rats in total in Britain in or around our homes," Mr Cowan was quoted as saying.

Then we need to take commercial buildings such as warehouses and factories into account.

The wildlife expert believes five per cent of the nation's 1.8 million businesses contain rats, which he feels is around the 200,000 mark.

Rats are notorious for hiding out in sewers and Mr Cowan stated that approximately 1.6 million reside here. Once added to the rats found in rural areas, the total figure comes to something in the region of 10.5 million.

While this is still a monumental number to get your head around, it is still a long way short of the human population of 60 million.

Having done a few calculations, Mr Cowen confirmed that we are actually never more than 164 feet away from a rodent, which is far more comfortable.

Of course, some people will inevitably encounter the furry creatures in and around their home and there are plenty of products and rat traps available to eradicate them as efficiently as possible.