While Mouse Trap may be a fun game for kids, there’s nothing playful about dealing with a rodent invasion as a facility manager. Beyond the gross factor, rodents can cause serious structural damage to your building’s most sensitive systems.
If you have concerns about using traditional traps or poisons,
approach the situation using integrated pest management.
Patrick Copps, an entomologist and Technical Services Manager
for Orkin, and Chad Gore, an entomologist and Regional Technical Director for Rentokil, share prevention tips to discourage
rats and mice.
No Small Problem
Gore: Rodents have the potential to transmit diseases. They
often carry parasites such as
ticks and fleas that can infect
humans. Their droppings and
saliva can also be contaminated with harmful bacteria
and viruses. Not only can an
infestation hurt your company’s
brand, but it can undercut
Copps: In addition to being a
health issue, feces can stain
building materials. Rodents also
gnaw on and burrow into their
surroundings. They can chew
through wood, food containers,
plastic plumbing and electrical conduit. And once they get
inside your walls, insulation is
an ideal spot for their nests.
Avoid Inviting Rodents
Gore: All organisms require
food, shelter and water. Take
any one of those away and you
begin to stress the animal out.
The worst thing you can do is
inadvertently support those
basic needs through poor
For example, any clutter
around your facility offers rodents a place to shelter and nest.
Also look to your sanitation practices. Mice and rats can easily
locate crumbs from employees eating at their desks or get into
poorly stored food. While mice can metabolize water from their
food, rats have a daily requirement for hydration – eliminate any
possible sources of standing and leaking water.
USE SUSTAINABLE OPTIONS
such as inspections and
eliminating sources of food
and shelter to discourage
rodents from making a home
in your building.
Prevent a Rodent Rundown
Learn about humane options that discourage rats and mice
You also shouldn’t have a lot of vegetation up against the
building because plants can offer a natural habitat. You don’t
have to rip out all landscaping – just have enough of a clearance to inspect your foundation. For example, use peat gravel
to create a sanitation border along exterior walls.
Copps: Look at the access to your structure. Mice can squeeze
through a quarter-inch gap and rats only need a half inch. Plus
they can use their teeth to make any opening bigger. If a hole
is the width of a pencil, there’s a good chance it’s letting in
rodents. Pay special attention to gaps under doors, tears in
window screens, envelope cracks, and penetrations around
utility connections, piping and skylights.
Trash and litter will also attract rodents. Make sure any
dumpsters, cans or compactors are positioned away from the
building, have tight seals and are cleaned periodically.
If you have a dock, deliveries may be a source of an infestation. Mice and rats can arrive on pallets, food materials or cardboard cartons. Routinely check for droppings when receiving
shipments and follow up with the supplier if necessary. Pest
management is a chain – everyone needs to take care of their
own property so they’re not causing others grief.
Greener Pest Methods
Gore: There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. A good rodent
management program includes several control layers that are
tailored to your facility.
Start with routine inspections. These can be done on
a monthly basis with extra attention during the fall when
rodents need to protect themselves against the cold.
Droppings are the most obvious indicator, though urine can be
harder to spot. Damage from chewing and shredded materials
are another clue. Also look for rub marks near openings and
crevices – these dirty streaks are caused by the oils in their
fur. Be mindful that some rodents can climb, so don’t forget to
check your roof.
For persistent infestations, there are motion-activated and IR
cameras like the ones used for animal trails. These will help you
target frequently traveled areas.
Copps: Sticky boards can be used as a last resort in heavy
infestations. Deploy them as an overnight blitz and make sure
to empty traps quickly. Otherwise you’re letting the animal
starve to death.
Keep in mind that catch-and-release isn’t appropriate for
this type of pest; it only puts people at risk because rodents
will return with the help of pheromone markings. If your best
preventive measures have failed, judicious use of rodenticides
have their place under integrated pest management.
Jennie Morton firstname.lastname@example.org is Senior Editor