Pest management for rodents
Mice and rats are just two examples of the mammals that are classified under the Rodentia order. There are over 2,200 different species of rodents, including mice and rats, and more than forty percent of all mammal species belong to the Rodentia order.
More than 60 native rodent species can be found in Australia, in addition to three introduced pest species.
On every continent besides Antarctica, rodents have been successful in establishing a population. This is due to the fact that they are relatively small, have a relatively quick breeding cycle, and are able to consume a wide variety of foods. They are the second most successful species of mammal on the planet, behind only humans in terms of reproductive success.
During the feeding process, rodents consume and destroy their own food source. This can result in catastrophic damage to a wide variety of different environments, including residential homes, commercial enterprises, agricultural operations, manufacturing facilities, and livestock.
Not only are rodents capable of gnawing through a wide variety of materials, but their excrement can also wreak havoc on stored food.
Not all rodents are considered pests The fact that many species of rodents are consumed as prey by carnivorous animals such as cats, snakes, large birds, and foxes makes them an essential component of the food chain. The dissemination of seeds and spores is another important ecological role that rodents play.
The upper and lower jaws of rodents each have two pointy front teeth, which gives them their characteristic appearance. These teeth are constantly growing, and their size is controlled by the constant gnawing that they undergo.
Major rodent pest species
Rattus norvegicus, also known as the Norway rat.
The Norway rat is the larger of the two species of rats that are considered to be a nuisance. It is also known as the common rat, sewer rat, and brown rat.
In most cases, their lifespan ranges from nine to twelve months.
Females can have anywhere from five to six litters a year, with an average of ten puppies in each litter. There are 21 days of gestation, and the young reach sexual maturity between 3 and 4 months after birth.
In most cases, Norway rats are active during the night. They are capable swimmers and diggers, and their vocalizations have a high pitch.
Omnivores consume both plant and animal matter, and the Norway rat is no exception to this rule. They are willing to consume almost anything, but their preference is for foods that are high in starch and protein, such as cereals, which make up a significant portion of their diet. Meat, fish, vegetables, weeds, earthworms, crustaceans, nuts, and fruit are some of the other foods that they consume.
The physical characteristics that define a Norway rat are as follows:
- brown or gray fur, with grey underfur and grey paws and bellyfur.
- large build
- blunt nose
- Ears that are short and thick, with a fine coat.
- between 20 and 27 centimeters in length, including the head and body
- 16–20 centimeters in length for the tail.
- between 200 and 500 grams in weight
- banana or sausage-shaped droppings
Roof rat (Rattus rattus)
The roof rat, also called the ship rat or black rat, is significantly smaller than the Norway rat that is more commonly found. Their average lifespan is between nine and twelve months. It is possible for females to have four to five litters a year, with an average of six to eight puppies in each litter. Sexual maturity is attained between three and four months, and the gestation period for females is twenty one days.
The most common places to find roof rats are in urban settings or in coastal areas. They are able to climb well and can nest in structures, roof voids, and ships thanks to their adaptability.
Roof rats consume a wide variety of foods, but their primary diet consists of cereals, grains, fruit, and virtually anything else that can be considered to have some nutritional value. They are omnivores, and if they have to, they will consume either meat or insects.
The physical characteristics that define a roof rat are as follows:
- a coat of gray, black, or brown hair, with some patches of white on the belly
- length of the head and body between 14 and 20 centimeters
- a total length of 25 centimeters
- small, slender, streamlined build
- between 200 and 300 grams in weight
- nose that is pointed
- ears that are thin, almost hairless, and transparent in size.
- pink feet
- spindle-shaped droppings
House mouse (Mus domesticus)
The house mouse is quite diminutive. They have a lifespan that is approximately one year. It's possible for females to have six to ten litters a year. Around the sixth week of life, sexual maturity sets in, and the gestational period lasts for three weeks.
Mice are naturally inquisitive creatures that can coexist with humans either indoors or outdoors in close proximity.
They consume a wide range of foods, such as fruits, nuts, grains, animal feed, and cereals, among other things.The physical characteristics that define a house mouse are as follows:
- a fur of brown or grey color
- 8-10 centimeters in length overall, including the head and body
- 8–10 centimeters in length of the tail
- 14–20 grams in total weight
- small slender build
- nose that is pointed
- large ears covered in hair
- pink feet
- small spindle or irregular-shaped droppings
Rodent infestation identification
Perform a thorough examination of the property and be on the lookout for any evidence of gnawing or feeding-related damage, such as holes, smears, and droppings. Mice typically consume their food by nibbling, consuming only the outer layers of grains while leaving the center intact. Rats, on the other hand, will frequently leave behind crumbs or smaller pieces of food.
Mice typically inhabit the interior of the structure and are capable of chewing holes up to 20 millimeters in diameter in the flooring, walls, and partitions. Rats leave behind larger holes, measuring about 80 millimeters on average, which could be the entrance to their nests. Nests are sometimes located in out-of-the-way places, and they can be constructed out of a wide variety of materials, including cardboard, paper, straw, and rags.
Methods for the control of rodents
Sanitation and prohibition of entry
When looking for ways to prevent and control a rodent problem, it is important to conduct an inspection of the area to look for potential food, water, and shelter sources. The following are some effective deterrents that can be used to prevent rodents from settling in an area:
- keeping extremely high standards of cleanliness
- removing unnecessary items, such as litter, overgrown vegetation in the garden, leaking plumbing, food scraps, nesting sites, or shelters
Mice are able to fit through openings as narrow as 8 millimeters, so it is important to ensure that even the smallest holes and gaps are sealed.
Physical traps can take the form of glue traps, more basic snap traps, or more complex devices designed to catch multiple mice at once. The use of traps, as opposed to poisons or other chemical methods of rodent control, necessitates more work and time investment. This method has a lower rate of adoption among PCOs due to its lower efficiency and cost.
In the following kinds of situations, catching rodents in traps might be the best course of action:
- cases in which the use of chemical pesticides is not permitted, such as those involving food premises
- catching individual rodents that are not interested in taking the bait
In accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008, glue traps may only be utilized within food manufacturing companies by PCOs who have been granted permission to do so.
Rodenticides are typically used in conjunction with other anti-rodent measures to eradicate rat and mouse populations. The rodent can be killed by a rodenticide with a single dose (referred to as acute) or with multiple doses (referred to as chronic).
Acute rodenticides include:
- metal phosphides (zinc; once baits containing zinc phosphide have been ingested, metal phosphides will be absorbed by the body)
The target animal's stomach acid reacts with the pesticide in the digestive system to produce a toxic gas called phosphide, which is composed of aluminum, magnesium, and calcium.
Fumigants by nature, metal phosphides are also rodenticides that work quickly and only require a single dose.
Only the common rat is susceptible to the effects of norbormide. It accomplishes this by narrowing blood vessels, which, in turn, disrupts the blood supply to vital organs.
Anticoagulant poisons broadifacoum, flocoumafen, and difenacoum are all extremely dangerous to human life. Anticoagulants prevent the clotting of blood, which results in the blood's diluting. The rodents eventually succumb to an internal hemorrhage and die as a result.
Chronic rodenticides include:
Anticoagulants include things like warfarin, coumatetralyl, and diphacinone. Calciferol is a type of vitamin D that is often combined with anticoagulants in order to boost the rodenticidal efficacy of the combination.
Rodent pest control safety precautions
Take care to observe these safety measures whenever you use methods for rodent pest control:
- Before using pesticides, make sure to read the product label and follow all of the label's instructions, including any safety warnings.
- When working with pesticides, it is important to always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Do not place baits in areas where they could be reached by children, pets, wild animals, or livestock, and do not use bait stations that have locks on them.
- Only put baits in spots from which it will be possible to retrieve them in the future.
- Maintain a log of where the bait was placed.
- Routinely inspect bait stations, and if the rodent problem is resolved, remove all bait from the stations and dispose of it in an appropriate manner.
- Please keep all tenants informed regarding the use of pesticides in the building.
- Do not put baits or tracking powder in areas where they could potentially contaminate food or areas used for food handling.
- When working with pesticides, you should not eat, drink, or smoke.
- Always wash your personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, clothes, and boots, after using a pesticide.
- Keep pesticides in the containers they came in and check to make sure the labels haven't been tampered with; under no circumstances should you transfer products into different containers.
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