RAT AND MICE CONTROL PROGRAM
RATTUS RATUS OR ROOF RATS
A successful rat control strategy typically includes three elements: sanitation measures; building construction and rodent proofing; and, if necessary, population control.
Firstly, the priority is to try to find how they entered the property, as without doing this, you may not be able to totally solve the problem. Even if you clear the current rat infestation , rats may return in a month, a year or even 5 years down the line.
If you live in a rural area then it is likely that a fault in the structure of your property has allowed the rats access. Check for broken air bricks in external walls, forgotten holes in brickwork where maybe a new sink or toilet was installed and pipes run through the wall. You are looking for any hole of 2 inches (50mm) or more as a young rat can enter via a 2 inch hole!
RATTUS NORVEGICUS OR NORWAY RAT
Sanitation is fundamental to rat control and must be continuous. If sanitation measures aren’t properly maintained, the benefits of other measures will be lost and rats will quickly return. Good housekeeping in and around buildings will reduce available shelter and food sources for Norway rats and, to some extent, roof rats. Neat, off-the-ground storage of pipes, lumber, firewood, crates, boxes, gardening equipment, and other household goods will help reduce the suitability of the area for rats and also will make their detection easier. Collect garbage, trash, and garden debris frequently, and ensure all garbage receptacles have tight-fitting covers. Where dogs are kept and fed outdoors, rats can become a problem if there is a ready supply of dog food. Feed your pet only the amount of food it will eat at a feeding, and store pet food in rodent-proof containers.
Building Construction and Rodent Proofing
The most successful and long-lasting form of rat control in structures is exclusion, or “building them out.” (See Rodent-proofing your home.) Seal cracks and openings in building foundations and any openings for water pipes, electric wires, sewer pipes, drain spouts, and vents. No hole larger than 1/4 inch should be left unsealed, in order to exclude both rats and house mice. Make sure doors, windows, and screens fit tightly. Their edges can be covered with sheet metal if gnawing is a problem. Coarse steel wool, wire screen, and lightweight sheet metal are excellent materials for plugging gaps and holes. Norway and roof rats are likely to gnaw away plastic sheeting, wood, caulking, and other less sturdy materials.
Because rats and house mice are excellent climbers, openings above ground level must also be plugged. Rodent proofing against roof rats, because of their greater climbing ability, usually requires more time to find entry points than for Norway rats. Roof rats often enter buildings at the roofline, so be sure that all access points in the roof are sealed. If roof rats are traveling on overhead utility wires, contact a pest control professional or the utility company for information and assistance with measures that can be taken to prevent this.
RAT BAIT STATION
Glue traps, which work on the same principle as flypaper, aren’t recommended for controlling rats, as they are much less effective for rats than for mice. A major drawback with glue boards and other live-catch traps is the trapped rat might not die quickly, and you will need to kill it by delivering a sharp blow to the base of the skull using a sturdy rod or stick. Rats caught in glue traps can struggle for quite some time, often dragging the trap as they try to escape. When used indoors, cats and dogs can get into the glue and track it around the house; outdoors, glue traps can capture lizards, birds, and other nontarget wildlife.
Bait Placement and Bait Stations
All rodenticide baits must be used carefully according to the label directions, which have become more specific and more restrictive. Some baits must be contained within bait stations for all outdoor, above-ground applications. In addition to increasing the safety of the bait, bait stations also help the rats feel secure while feeding. Place all bait stations in rat travel ways or near their burrows and harborage. Don’t expect rats to go out of their way to find the bait. For Norway rats, place bait stations near rodent burrows or suspected nest sites, against walls, or along travel routes. For roof rats, place baits in elevated locations, such as in the crotch of a tree, on top of a fence, or high in a vine. If you place bait stations above ground level, take care that they are securely fastened and won’t fall to the ground where children or pets could find them. Because rats often are suspicious of new or unfamiliar objects, it might take several days for them to enter and feed in bait stations.
Where it is impossible to exclude rodents from structures, rat control can be accomplished by establishing permanent bait stations in buildings and around the perimeters of buildings. Place fresh bait in these stations to control invading rats before populations become established. For best results, make sure there is a continuous supply of bait until feeding stops. With the first-generation anticoagulant baits, it usually takes 5 or more days, once the rats start feeding, for them to die. Check bait stations regularly and replace bait if it gets old or moldy, because rats won’t eat stale bait.