Magazine article Journal of Property Management

I Thought a Saw a Rat

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

I Thought a Saw a Rat

Article excerpt

Once you have a rodent problem, it only multiplies - literally and figuratively. According to the Department of Health Services, a female rat can breed at two months of age, and produces four to six litters of six to 10 pups each in her year life span. There can be as many as 22 pups in a single litter.

The rodent population, though, isn't rising as much as it's moving. Sewer work and building demolition often disturb the nesting sites of these pests; and if they haven't been exterminated prior to the project, they'll go next door or down the street.

If they move onto your property, they can cause extensive damage in a brief period of time: ruined walls and floors, damaged equipment, gnawed wires, or worse. It's estimated that 20 to 25 percent of all fires of undetermined origin are caused by nesting and foraging rats and mice.

Besides the damage to your property and its reputation, rats and mice are a health hazard. Rats and mice have been associated with more than 200 transmissible diseases. Each year more than 43,000 people in the United States are bitten by rats and mice. This is not just a problem in impoverished urban areas.

Without a doubt, rats and mice are a serious problem. However, there are a number of things you can do to prevent your building from becoming infested with rodents - or to correct the situation, if this has already happened to you.

Assess the Situation

No type of building is exempt from rodent infestation. Rats and mice have been found on the 14th story of luxury office buildings, at most industrial sites, at apartment complexes, and in shopping malls - especially when there is a food court.

You may sense that you have a rodent problem before you actually see one. When trying to find evidence of rodents, look for dirty smudges around holes in walls and passages; gnawed items; partially eaten food; or droppings. If you notice rats or mice near your property, the pests will probably begin visiting your building.

What Can You Do?

What works at one property may not be effective at another. The National Pest Control Association suggests contacting several different rodent-control specialists for price quotes, detailed explanations about their products, the guarantees they offer etc. After receiving this information, you then have to consider what you're getting for your money. The company selling the most expensive products may not necessarily be the best one to solve your particular problem.

Poison. Rodenticides are available in many brands and are effective in certain applications, but you should carefully consider their use. You may not want to use rodenticides at properties where food is prepared, sold, or stored. Also, when a rat or mouse eats rodenticide, it usually must ingest the poison over several days before finally dying. Therefore, it might die in a wall, resulting in additional health, sanitary, odor, and removal problems. Poisons can also end up harming pets or children instead of rodents.

It usually takes rats a night or two before they sample a new bait. If a poison sickens but does not kill them, they will remember and avoid it. The rat's sense of taste is so acute that in one test rats were able to detect a quarter part of contaminant in a billion parts of bait.

Snap traps. Some of these old-fashioned devices require no bait because they are impregnated with a scent rodents can't resist. For traps requiring bait, though, forget using cheese. The professional's choice, preferred by mice as well, is peanut butter. Snap traps, while effective, can be dangerous. There is always the risk of children or pets getting injured in the trap. Such traps can also be messy.

Glue boards. You can purchase ready-to-use, disposable glue boards containing non-drying, non-flowing glue in specially designed plastic trays for clean, easy handling. Or, you can purchase a special glue and make your own glue boards. …

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