Animals, wildlife and pests

At Peterborough City Council, we do not operate our own pest control service. 

Depending on the situation, you should contact the relevant organisation, association or a pest controller for advice or treatment. We have provided details below.

The GOV.UK website has advice on what to do and where to get help if you find pests at your property.

Our Environmental Health Team can provide advice on the best approach and support anyone who needs initial advice relating to suspected pest infestations of any kind.


Amphibians and reptiles

Reptiles and amphibians are great assets to have in any garden and should be encouraged. They will hibernate in winter and become active again in spring. For information and advice relating to frogs, toads, newts, lizards and snakes, visit the Froglife website. If you find an injured amphibian or reptile call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.


If you believe you have found a snake in their garden, there is no need for you to do anything. Snakes sometimes use gardens for foraging and will pose no threat to you or your pets. They may however wish to submit this information to their local Biological Records Centre.

Adders, Britain’s only venomous snake, tend to avoid gardens and people and will only bite if threatened or antagonised. Grass snakes and slow worms are commonly mistaken for adders, so ensure your have identified it correctly. Bites are painful but seldom require serious medical attention (there have been no fatalities recorded for over 30 years in the UK). If you are bitten, remain calm and get someone to drive you to hospital or call an ambulance.


It is an offence to disturb or handle bats without expert supervision – all are afforded strong protection by both domestic and international legislation. Therefore before undertaking any works to your property you must seek advice from Natural England.

For more information on bats, or if you find an injured or orphaned bat, the Bat Conservation Trust will be able to put you in touch with your local bat carer by calling 0845 1300 228.

If you believe you may have bats in your property, you do not need to do anything but you may wish to report this information to your local Biological Records Centre.

Anyone affected by a bed bug infestation needs to contact a pest controller for advice and treatment.

The NHS website has advice on getting treatment for bed bug bites.

Any property infested with bedbugs can be classified as being in a “verminous condition” under the Public Health Acts of 1936 and 1961. Therefore owners may be obliged to have their premises disinfected.

Bedbugs are not regarded as disease carriers but their continuous blood feeding can cause severe irritation in some people. This can result in loss of sleep, lack of energy and listlessness, particularly in children. Indications of bedbugs, particularly in the initial stages are not obvious. You may notice a change in your bed, with a few blood spots on the sheets. As the infestation increases you would probably begin to see live insects, dark excreta marks and insect skin casts.

It is important to employ a professional person who knows what they are doing and in particular exactly where to look for them and where to treat. Also, it is important not to move material from any room that is infested, until the area has been treated.

General information about bed bugs

Unlike most other bugs, bedbugs cannot fly and must either crawl or be passively transported in clothing or more probably in luggage, furniture, books or other objects used as harbourage.

When it has not recently fed, the body is paper thin, and almost red brown. After feeding, the body elongates and widens and the colour changes to a dull red. This apparent change is quite striking and may cause the observer to believe that two different species of insect are present.

Bedbug eggs are elongated and about 1mm long, white in colour, and have a distinct cap on one side. The eggs are laid individually or in clusters, and are cemented to wood, fabrics and other surfaces in places where bugs hide.

Bedbugs are more common in areas of high population density, normally large conurbations. Holiday resorts, hotels, hostels, and holiday camps have been noted for bedbug infestations.

Normally, bedbugs reach their peak numbers in the UK towards early autumn.

Bedbugs will only search for blood donors when they are hungry. In between meals they spend their time in suitable hiding places in close vicinity to the bed. Feeding normally takes about 10 minutes. Following this the bedbug retreats back to its hiding place, where it digests, mates and lays eggs until it is hungry again. However, although they normally feed every 2 to 4 days, they have been known to live up to 12 months without feeding.



If you are concerned about a beehive on or near your property, talk to the British Beekeepers Association.

Bees and their hives do not pose any real threat unless they are close to vulnerable individuals (e.g. people known to be hyper-allergic to stings) therefore destroying nests should be a last option. / A colony will only last one summer, finishing around September/October. Nests should only be moved as a last resort, which would need to be undertaken by pest control, which will usually destroy the nest. For more information on removing a nest, visit the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website.


If a wasp nest is situated in a place where it cannot be physically avoided or is close to vulnerable individuals (e.g. people known to be hyper-allergic to stings) you will need to contact pest control who would remove or destroy the nest.


Finding ants indoors can usually be resolved by packaging up the food items that may be attracting them and cleaning any surfaces. Female black ants (flying ants) usually swarm for one day in the summer months in order to mate. The black ant is harmless.


Wild birds

All wild birds are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds, their nests or their eggs.

It is important to be aware that bird nesting season runs from March to August and it is an offence to disturb schedule 1 birds at this time. Therefore works which are likely to impact upon nesting birds, such as hedge trimming, should be avoided during these months.

Injured birds

If you find an injured bird or wild animal, watch it for a short while to gauge how badly it is hurt. If it’s safe to do so, try to contain the animal before calling the RSPCA. Always take great care when approaching wild animals.

If you believe the animal requires medical care contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 who will be able to advise which of their wildlife centres you should take the animal to.

Bird flu

Find out more on our dedicated bird flu page.


Stray dogs

If you wish to report a stray dog, please call the dog warden from Midland Environment Contracts Ltd on 07795 383003 between Monday and Friday, 9am to 5pm.

If you find a stray dog outside the dog warden working hours, please call 01733 864157. We can then make arrangements for you to take the dog to a dedicated acceptance point.

Dogs are detained under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for seven days and kept in quality kennelling facilities. If a dog is not claimed within the seven days, it then becomes the property of the kennels/re-housing centre and is assessed for suitable re-homing.

  • It is the responsibility of the owner to report their dog as missing to this service
  • If we have contact details available from a disc, lost report or microchip, the owner will be contacted to inform them that the dog is detained and is safe
  • Under this Act there is a fine to pay for the return of a lost or stray dog. Owners will be informed of this cost when contact is made.

Dangerous dogs

The Dangerous Dogs Act prevents people from keeping certain types of dogs that are normally bred for fighting. It enables restrictions to be imposed on other types of dog breeds that may be thought to be a serious danger to the public.

Dangerous dog complaints must be reported to Cambridgeshire Police. If a person is attacked or feels threatened by any breed of dog they should call Cambridgeshire Police.

Dogs on private property

The RSPCA are responsible for dogs locked in houses, dogs that are reported on private property as neglected and abandoned and homeless dogs as a result of the sudden death of the owner. These responsibilities do not fall under our jurisdiction as a council. For further advice call the 24 hour advice line 0300 1234 999.

Microchipping your dog

You must make sure your dog is fitted with a microchip by the time it's 8 weeks old, or from the 6 April 2016 you could be fined up to £500.

Peterborough City Council do not offer free microchipping but some charities may microchip your dog for free. You can find out more about getting your dog microchipped from GOV.UK.

Dog on dog attacks

It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, such as:

  • in a public place
  • in a private place, eg a neighbour’s house or garden
  • in the owner’s home.

Please note: the law applies to all dogs.

Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

  • injures someone
  • makes someone worried that it might injure them.

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply:

  • it attacks someone’s animal
  • the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal.


You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) if your dog is dangerously out of control. You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.

If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to 5 years or fined (or both). If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’.

If you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine (or both).

If you allow your dog to injure an assistance dog (e.g. a guide dog) you can be sent to prison for up to 3 years or fined (or both).

How to report a dog on dog attack

The majority of people living in Peterborough are responsible dog owners, however if a dog attacks you, your dog or another animal, you should report the incident to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

The government has recently introduced new ‘Dog Behaviour Orders’ which means owners can have conditions placed on them to control their dog, and if they breach these they will be prosecuted through the courts.

This is legislation both the police and council will use to improve safety and deal with this issue, so please ensure your dog is under control at all times.

You can also report a dangerous dog on dog attack to the council. The Council can use any or a combination of the following powers if a dog is causing, or is likely to cause, nuisance or harm:

Councils can also restrict what dogs can do in a public space, eg banning dogs from the area or requiring them to be on leads. This is known as a public spaces protection order.

Other ways to help improve dog behaviour can be as effective as legal action. These include educating dog owners or giving a warning to offenders.

The order or civil injunction used depends on the type, frequency and severity of the behaviour. It must only include reasonable measures for the person responsible for the dog to take.


Foxes are extremely unlikely to attack dogs or cats. Other pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens should be kept in secure areas with fox proof fencing or indoors.

The most common fox ‘nuisance’ complaints are digging, fouling and noise, all of which are aspects of natural fox behaviour. If you are in an area with foxes present, it is unlikely you will be able to permanently prevent foxes from entering your property altogether.

However, effective deterrents can be used which are both humane and offer long term solutions. For more information contact the Fox Project’s deterrence helpline on 01892 826222.

Invasive plants

It is an offence under section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to "plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild" any plant listed in Schedule nine, Part II to the Act. This includes Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam. It is not an offence to simply have it growing in your garden or on your land and there is no specific legal requirement to control it if it is (unless doing so forms part of a legally binding contract or agreement with another party).

You can find more detailed advice on the GOV.UK website - wildlife and habitat conservation page.

More detailed advice can be found on Natural England's website regarding Japanese Knotweed.

Rats and mice

The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 places a requirement on owners and occupiers of land to keep their land free from rats and mice.

This means that the responsibility for eradicating an infestation at a property lies with the occupier and / or the owner of the property. This also applies to domestic residents. Therefore, should there be rats or mice at a home address, it is the occupant / owner of the premises that has a duty to take action.

We do not operate a pest control service. Where residents and businesses are affected by rats / mice on their own property, they are advised to engage the services of a professional pest control service. Where they are a tenant, they should speak to their landlord. Pollution Control would only become involved where there is continued evidence of an infestation of rats / mice and no pest control measures were being taken.

The 1949 Act also places a duty on local authorities to enforce this requirement. However, action by way of enforcement will only be taken where infestations can be proven to be on land that is a person's responsibility, and that it is a serious infestation or harbouring and attraction be found on their land they would also be subject to formal action by way of a notice.

In Peterborough we will investigate where evidence is provided that there is an active infestation. Call us on 01733 747474, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Reporting animal cruelty

If you suspect any pet or wild animal is being mistreated, call the RSPCA Cruelty Reporting Helpline on 0300 1234 999.

You can also report a wildlife crime directly to your local police station (dial 101) or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Additionally, if you suspect poisoning of wildlife or pet animals, call the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme on 0800 321 600.

  • Natural England
  • FrogLife
  • RSPCA (Peterborough local office) - 01733 222188
  • Royal Pigeon Racing Association - 01452 713529 (if you find a stray racing or homing pigeon)
  • Dogs Trust - rehomes stray and abandoned dogs - 01273 452576
  • Cats Protection - national charity which rescues and rehomes unwanted and abandoned cats, and seeks to promote responsible cat ownership - 01323 440101
  • Retired Greyhound Trust - dedicated to finding retired greyhounds homes around the UK plus care tips, details of events and news stories - 020 8335 3016 or 01474 815273.
  • British Hedgehog Preservation Society - dedicated to helping and protecting native hedgehogs - 01584 890801
  • Raptor Rescue - provides direct assistance to the public who may find an injured or sick Bird of Prey - 0870 241 0609
  • The Mammal Society - for general advice about mammals - 02380 237874
  • British Divers Marine Life Rescue - dedicated to the rescue and well being of all marine animals in distress around the UK - 01825 765546
  • The Badger Trust - promotes the conservation and welfare of badgers and the protection of their setts and habitats - 08458 287878
  • Butterfly Conservation Trust (butterflies and moths) - 01929 400209
  • National Swan Sanctuary - a charity dedicated to the care and treatment of swans and waterfowl - 01784 431667
  • Buglife is the UK’s leading invertebrate conservation charity and provides general information on invertebrate conservation.