Rodents (Mainly Rats & Mice)
Article author: Bruce Gow
“One of the jobs I enjoy getting to do. Getting rid of rodents is always a huge relief for out customers and we want to keep our customers out of harms way!” – Bruce
Mice and rats are, alongside mankind, essentially the most effective creatures on the planet when it comes to selection as well as range. Mankind has unknowingly assisted their distribution through the entire word through exploration. Nevertheless, they’ve in certain conditions turn out to be his worst type of adversary.
Vast amounts of money annually is sacrificed through contamination of foodstuff through rodent excrement, urine as well as fur. Rats ruin a lot more foodstuff compared to they might possibly consume, and also their eating routines via gnawing have been to blame for producing fires in roofs. Rat control particularly is a growing pest problem in Sydney.
They multiply so rapidly, that inside a calendar year a rat may have among 30 and 80 young, depending on species -one couple might produce 15 thousand rats in their life span. Rodents may press via a opening the dimensions of a twenty cent piece, drop twenty metres without injuries, tread water for three days, consume a variety of foods and endure an atomic bomb blast. This can make it a bit tricky if you don’t know how to properly get rid of mice and rats.
The Benefits From Rodent Control in Sydney
There are many good reasons for treating Rodents, here are a few good points:
1. Prevention of money loss; the cost of damage by rodents is difficult to estimate, but is huge.
2. Prevention of damage; almost every type of food commodity whether in production, store or use is subject to rodent attack. Damage is also caused to the fabric of buildings, to electric wiring and plumbing.
3. Elimination of contamination; in addition to foods consumed, a vast quantity is fouled and contaminated by rodent droppings, urine and hairs.
4. Prevention of loss of goodwill; articles damaged by rodents and fouled by their droppings are unacceptable to the trade and to the public.
5. Prevention of disease; rodents carry a number of diseases injurious to man and domestic animals.
6. Conforming with law; it is an offence under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act (1949) to knowingly harbour rodents in any premises. In food premises it is also an offence under various Food & Drug acts. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act all work places must be kept free of health hazards.
7. Relief from fear; the presence of rodents causes unnecessary distress and psychological harm to some people.
8. Improved employee-employer relationship; working conditions are an important consideration in keeping employees contented.
Species of Rodents
AKA scientific name of Rattus rattus or common name of black rat or the ship rat is accountable for the Black Plague and the death of millions of people from its flea. Its capability to clamber distributed it all through the planet by clambering boats hawsers. It prefers to reside in trees and shrubs and roofs of buildings.
AKA scientific name of Rattus norvegicus or Brown rat prefers to dig (unlike the roof rat) and also favours to dwell in close proximity to drinking water and damp areas. The Norway Rat carries a stouter frame and has a tail that is not as long. Is ears are also not as big when in comparison to the roof rat.
AKA scientific name Mus domesticus. Having a mouse problem tends to be a very much bigger monetary issue compared to rats in Australia, with population densities achieving 32,500 per hectare in plagues. They demand significantly less water than rats, with a shorter pregnancy period plus from 42 days, are at nearly 1/2 the proliferation maturity of the Roof rat.
Mice are distinguished from young rats by way of smaller heads and feet, bigger ears in proportion, and significantly longer tail.
Pest Control & Pesticides (Rodentiticides): Baits & Lures -Since the 1940’s chronic anti-coagulants have superseded Thallium, Strichnine & Arsenic Trioxide as a poisonous lure. Since the previous 10 or so years, rodents have become largely immune to Warfarin. Strains of rats can make it through a dosage that is several times more powerful only 10 years ago. Some strains of mice appear typically untouched by it at all.
A major advance in rodent control took place in the 70’s with the breakthrough of Brodifacoum & Bromadiolone, though resistance is actually commencing to take place. It is worth noting that the roof rat likes succulent meals (make use of liquid baits) and Norway Rats like dried foods (use cereal lures)
Detection of Rats and Mice
Any serious attempt to control rodents in buildings must, of necessity, begin with a thorough inspection of the premises. Technicians should take any opportunity to inspect premises at night when the activity may be directly observed. Signs of activity observed during the day must be interpreted to yield as much information as possible about the type(s) of rodent present, the extent of their activity, their routes and the approximate size of the population, and any other information that will aid in the determination of proper and effective control procedures. The following signs of rodent activity can be of great value in providing such clues:
Droppings – Droppings aid in identifying the rodent species present. When shiny, dark and pliable, they suggest very recent activity. Usually, within 2-3 days they become dull and hard as they dry out, and after some time they may be attacked by insects. Consider cleaning up droppings from particular areas, so that a later inspection will more easily indicate the presence or absence of continued activity.
Runways and rubmarks – These are greasy smear marks on surfaces that accumulate from continual contact with dirty, greasy rodent fur. Usually, they are most apparent on vertical surfaces, and they are very useful for the placement of traps (baited or unbaited) and bait stations and for rodent-proofing procedures. When covered with dust or cobwebs, they probably indicate no current rodent traffic.
Burrows – Burrows are often present adjacent to waterways (e.g. streams, canals) and buildings. Rat burrows generally have a ‘bolt hole’ hidden under grain or debris. If cobwebs or weeds are seen in the entrance, it is likely that activity has ceased.
Gnawings – Rodents must gnaw to keep their incisors down. They tend to gnaw a wide variety of materials, including woodwork, soft metals, soap food containers, conduit and cables. If fresh gnawings may be seen beside and below the chew marks, it indicates recent activity. Gnaw marks in old buildings could almost be as old as the building.
Nests – Nests may be found in hidden parts of constructions. They are usually made of rags. Paper, cardboard, strwa and the like, and if fresh droppings are present, they are likely to be active. collections of foods, even snail shells, may indicate the proximity of rat-nesting areas.
Runs – Outdoors, constant rodent traffic may pat down vegetation to form a rather obvious run. Indoors, dust free runs in otherwise dusty areas may indicate constant traffic.
Tracks – Footprints and tail marks in dust – covered floors and roof voids confirm rodent activity.
Urine stains – Rodent urine fluoresces when a black (ultraviolet) light is shine onto surfaces contaminated with it. Rat urine often appears like sprinkling over the areas traveled on. Care should be taken with the use of a black light, as some materials other than rodent urine also show fluorescence.
Urinating pillars – Long-term activity of mice sometimes leads to a build-up of urine, grease, dirt and dust to form small mounds or ‘urinating pillars’.
Disappearance of food – Rats often carry food away to their nesting sites.
Sounds – Occupants of building may draw attention to sounds heard during the evening and night. These are often described as bumping, squeaking, gnawling, clawing and sometimes fighting.
Odour – The long-term presence of a rodent infestation usually creates a distinct odour.
Visual sightings – Occupants of buildings sometimes report sightings of rodents during the day. This often suggests a large population or food shortage.
Excitement of pets – Most pets are territorial and very sensitive to foreign odours, noises and so on. Pets such as dogs may become very excited about the intrusion of rodents, sometimes clawing and barking at the part of the building where rodents are active.
All of these clues, gathered during thorough inspection and perhaps during conversation with the building’s occupants, will help to establish your approach to managing the rodent problem.
Rodent control Methods.
Technicians called on to manage rodents infesting a building should propose a combination of methods, depending on the circumstances. Procedures may include the following:
- Sanitation – Reducing the food and shelter available for rodent activity.
- Rodent proofing – altering the building structurally so that rodents cannot gain entry.
- Trapping – using traps or glue boards to physically capture rodents.
- Chemical control – Which may involve a variety of chemicals and techniques:
a) Baiting: with acute (single-dose) poisons; with multiple -dose anticoagulant rodenticides or with single-dose anticoagulant rodenticides or with single-dose anticoagulant rodenticides.
b) use of tracking powders (poisonous dusts) or gels.
c) Use of fumigants (poisonous gases).
The control of some high health risk, large-scale rodent infestations usually requires the implementation of several of these procedures. In dealing with all rodent problems, however, irrespective of the type of chemical control or trapping undertaken, the observant technician will always look for signs of poor sanitation and hygiene practices that, unless corrected, will continue to invite rodent problems.
How to get rid of Mice
Mousetraps- if you find mice in your house, then there are a bunch of different mouse traps such as snap boards & tacky traps need to be applied as a back-up for lures, or for basic safety reasons. They ought to be put just out from skirting boards, with the bait on the trap close to the walls. I usually use cocoa powder sprinkled on some fresh bread. It may be smelled some distance away and mice love it. Tie the bread on to the metal tab that holds the bait with some cotton thread. Pulling will set off the trap. You can read more about traps as a method of rodent pest control.
Gassing- Is used for outdoor burrows, in boats and grain silos by the usage of fumigants. This is a popular method of mice and rat poisoning.
Prevention- In pest control this means the stopping of entry locations by mechanics means such as bird wire, aluminium sheeting, steel wool or door closes.
Contact Dusts and Gel- Tracking powder or gel may be used where the activity is situated. You can see where they travel and determine this by using a well known D.Y.I. household tip by the usage of talc as a tracking dust.
Prevention: High hygiene standards and limiting the availability of food and water is an important measure in limiting the amount of attention your home will get from rats and eventually lead you to the point where you need to know how to catch a rat.
Natural Countermeasures & Eco Friendly Rat Control
If you’re after a non-toxic and natural approach to rodent control then the following repellents are suitable as they are often used to repel rats:
•Napthalene Balls – these are very easy to acquire and when placed properly in problem areas around your home and property they can act as a natural deterrent. Rats dislike the scent they emit and will actively avoid it.
•Another natural scent which serves as a deterrent would be natural oils. Oils such as citronella/peppermint give off a powerful smell which can be a suitable deterrent.
•Electronic wave emitters are becoming very popular however, their efficiency is not proven yet and they seem to be a “hit and miss” option. They serve by emitting a strong frequency that deters rodents from coming near your property.
• Pets are also fantastic countermeasures for rodents as a cat or dog would go a long way as rat catchers! Sydney pet lovers have someone onside to help with natural enemies of rodents.
Natural Chemical / Poisons
As rats have developed over many years they’ve managed to develop a resistance to many conventional poisons and treatment methods. Some naturally occurring veggies that are poisonous to rats are:
•Sweet Potatoes (raw)
•Dry beans (not cooked)
Mixing some of these and spreading them around your property could go a long way in preventing a rodent infestation and killing off some that might already have made your home theirs as well. Please note that though these methods can be effective against a limited rodent presence we would recommend a professional approach and treatment if there is a rodent infestation or they keep coming back after you take measures against them.
How to get rid of Rodents
In Australia we mainly find two types of Rodents, the Norwegian Rat and the Roof Rat. The way we can tell the difference between the two is by looking at their droppings. The way we treat there Rodents are the same, it just depend on the situation. There are two ways to treat rodents namely non-chemical treatments and the chemical treatment.
It is quite reasonable to think that decreasing the food and shelter will lead to conflict between the rodents and will eventually decrease the numbers in population. After a thorough inspection of the clients property, the technician will be able to advise the client what may need to be done in order to make the property less desirable for the rodents by doing things like changing the bins to ones with tight fitting lids, a general clean up of the rubbish and overgrown weeds around the building. The technician might want you to do this right after the treatment or the following morning. Every situation will be different and maintaining a high level of hygiene is directly in relation to the control and prevention of rodents.
One of the most permanent methods of rodent control is to make alterations to the building to prevent rodents from entering. It is important to know that any cracks, crevices and holes can be access for rodents to enter the house. These should be blocked by using sturdy and durable materials, materials such as plastics and wood should not be used as rodents can chew through these. Some building has too many holes and crevices that it would not be economically feasible to proof the entire building. in some cases proofing might actually be a cheaper option if you consider long term treatment.
Trapping can be time consuming and require some skill but in some cases trapping would be the best option in the following situations: Where inaccessible dead rodents cannot be tolerated, for premises where chemicals are not tolerated and for getting those ‘bait-shy’ rodents that’s left after a baiting program. There are a few different trapping options such as simple snap traps and glue boards. Simple snap traps require a bait such as bacon, fish, nuts etc. to encourage the rodents to investigate and be trapped. Glue boards usually contain an attractive scent that attract the rodents, these traps must be placed where dust can not settle on the surface.
Tracking powders and gels.
Rodenticides are available in powder and gel forms. These need to be placed where rodents are likely to contaminate their paths like along runways or in burrows. Over a period of time rodents will ingest the poison witch will lower the numbers of the population. When using these powders and gel, one should be careful not to place it in places where the rodents can carry this poison into the house or where food are stored.
Fumigation would be used if there is a large infestation of rodents or where a rapid elimination of rodents are required. Fumigation is very dangerous and can only be carried out by a licenced technician.
Rodents suffer from ‘neophobia’ witch meant they know their immediate environment well and tend to avoid new objects. This means in some cases the house needs to be pre-baited to get the rodents to get used to new object and feed from it freely before it gets altered with poison.
A lot of the rodent work in Australia is done using this method. This treatment lets the rodents feed of the bait for several consecutive days before the rodents exit the house in search of water due to severe dehydration witch leads to death. This may take anything from 4 to 10 days. These baits should be placed where rodent activity is visible and where possible the baits should be in an enclosed area to afford coverage and protection to the feeding rodent. Lockable or tamper proof bait stations are often preferred and sometimes required for safety reasons.
Types of formulations.
anticoagulant rodenticides may be obtained in various forms:
- Concentrates – Used in the preparation of food or liquid baits, or perhaps as a tracking powder.
- Ready-to-use baits – mostly in the form of treated whole grain or pallets, available in bulk or ‘throw pack’ form.
- Paraffin blocks – Usually treated grain in matrix of paraffin wax, suitable for situations with excessive moisture.
Anticoagulant rodentcide bait, even through safer than single-dose poisons, should be placed so as to be inaccessible to pets, children and other non-target animals. where ‘throw packs’ (small amounts of treated grain prepackaged in plastic bags) are used, these should be placed unopened in areas inaccessible to people and pets, allowing the rodents to open them before feeding. Bait shyness does not usually develop, as the slowness of poisoning in not really associated with bait intake. Daily inspections and topping up are advisable for the first three days, until feeding requirements are known. Where baits are in trays, smoothing the level of bait will help to determine whether feeding is taking place. Bait should be removed when no longer required, as they may attract and facilitate the breeding of various stored-food beetles and moths.
Research into anticoagulants rodenticides has led to the development of pesticides that, while having the same mode of action as multiple-dose anticoagulants, give good control in small amounts and single feedings. A single lethal dose ingested by a rat will cause death in 3-7 days. The toxicity hazard of these ‘ second generation’ anticoagulants is more akin to that of traditional acute poisons; but because their mode of action is interference with proteins produced by their liver’s formation, they have an antidote – vitamin K1. Nevertheless, as these materials are toxic to warm-blooded animals as well as rodents, great care must be exercised.
Safety precautions in rodent control.
- Always read rodentcide product labels prior to use and use in accordance with label information.
- When preparaiton or handling rodent baits, wear protective clothing and equipment (including respirator, to protect against inhalation of fine dusts or vapours, and gloves to protect against skin contact)
- Baits should be placed so as not to allow access to them by children, pets, wildlife, domestic animals and livestock. Specially designed bait containers are available and should be used.
- All bait stations and containers should be clearly marked ‘POISON’
- All ocupants of the building (e.g. employees, residents) should be notified about the placement of poisonous.
- Baits should be placed where they can always be retrieved.
- A record of bait placements should be kept to facilitate comprehensive checking and/or later removal.
- When handling dead (or near dead) rodents, wear gloves and consider using insect repellent to lessen risks of bites by ectoparasites (e.g fleas).
- Do not place baits or tracking poweders where their disturbance could cause contamination of food, or food preparation and handling surfaces.
- Inspect bait stations regularly and remove baits when rodent activity ceases.
- Destroy old rodenticide containers and untaken bait.
- Do not contaminate ponds, waterways or drains with rodenticides or their containers.
- If rodenticide contacts your skin, and even if it hasn’t, on compeletion of baiting, wash thoroughly with soap and water.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while handling baits or tracking powders.
- Wash gloves and contaminated clothing before re-use.
- Do not give or sell rodenticides to clients.
- Store rotenticides in original containers, tightly closed and in a safe place.
Mice, on the other hand, although seeming to maintain a high degree of caution in their movement, are very curious and adventurous animals. They often investigate new food sources within a very short time after its appearance and seem to prefer nibbling at small amounts of food at various locations. This preference for feeding at several different sites is to be taken into account in mouse-baiting programs.
Among the many disease transmitted to humans by rodents, some of which are outlined in table 1.0, perhaps the most insidious and widespread problem involves the distribution of food-poisoning organisms, particularly Salmonella bacteria. Unfortunately, the nature of disease organisms of this type is such that it will always be difficult to pinpoint without any doubt, the cause of disease transmission. It is very likely that rats and mice play a significant role in the transmission of gastro-intestinal diseases, which are somewhat difficult to track back.
THE IMPORTANT PEST RODENTS
The physical characteristics and habits of the Norway rat, roof rat and house mouse are summarized in table 1.1.
Table 1.1 – Characteristics of rat and mice pests
|Characteristic||Norway rat||Roof rat||House mouse|
|Fur||Coarse, red-brown||Fine, grey, black, brown, may be white beneath.||Fine, brown to grey.|
|Ears||Small, close-set, finely haired.||Large, prominent, almost hairless.||Fairly large, hairy.|
|Tail||Shorter than body and head. Pale underneath.||Longer than body and head. Uniform colour.||About as long as body and head. Partly naked.|
|Droppings||18 mm blunt||12 mm pointed||3-4 mm pointed|
|Sexual Maturity||3-4 months||3-4 months||6 weeks|
|Gestation Period||About 22 days||About 23 days||About 19 days|
|Number of Litters||5-6 per year||4-5 per year||6-10 per year|
|Average per Litter||8-10||6-8||5-6|
|Average Length of Life||About 1 year||About 1 year||About 1 year|
|Habits||Burrows, swims well, occurs in sewers, lives outside and inside, nesting in various places.||Does not burrow, climbs well, poor swimmer, rare in sewers, often in high places (roofs etc.)||Burrows as well as nests in furniture, occurs outside and inside, not in sewers.|
|Food||Omnivorous – garbage, meat, cereals, fish (food, 20-30 g/day; water, 20-30ml/day).||Omnivorous – vegetables, fruit, cereal grains (food, 15-20 g/day; water, 15-22 ml/day).||Omnivorous – cereal grains (food, 3 g/day; water, 1 ml/day).|
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