Very often, we are called in to situations where a pest company has been battling a roof rat population for a very long time, with marginal success. Maybe they have seen fluctuations in capture rates, possibly even feeling at times as if they are finally making some real progress. Yet, the problem continues, month after month, and year after year.
What we typically find during these inspections, is spring traps in attics, and spring traps secured to objects up high, such as: rafters, conduit pipes, etc. The focus remains high, because they are “roof rats” after all. Though they are excellent climbers and most often prefer to travel and nest up high, a truly extensive rodent program will focus on the entire property, opposed to just where the activity has been reported (generally it’s a client stating, “I heard it over there.”) Traps should be placed based on findings and evidence like droppings, sebrum (rub marks), burrows, etc.
My advice to technicians out there currently struggling with a rodent issue, is to get your detective hat on and comb through the property, as if you were collecting evidence from a crime scene. Sometimes the answers come easy, but in these more severe cases, you can really create a headaches for yourself and the client by not first surveying the property. The entire property! Use a graph to map out your findings and customize a plan specific to each location and situation. Don’t get stuck in the standard set-up of devices, or standard trap placement protocol. These types of protocols drive me absolutely insane and limits your ability as a problem solver!
“My advice to technicians out there currently struggling with a rodent issue,
is to get your detective hat on and comb through the property as if you were
collecting evidence from a crime scene. Sometimes the answers come easy,
but in these more severe cases, you can really create a headaches for yourself
and the client by not first surveying the property. The entire property!
I recently attended a three day rodent training with forty plus pest professionals. The instructor asked if roof rats burrow. Maybe 25% of the room raised their hands and said yes, that they thought they did. Below are pictures from 3 different roof rat calls this past week; to where roof rats were discovered in irrigation/utility boxes in the exterior landscape. So the answer is yes, they do.
Roof rats in a utility box located in the landscaping
just outside of an apartment complex that has been
battling a rodent issue for 6 months.
Roof rats burrowing in to a utility box near some dumpsters
located 50 plus feet away from a shopping center that has
had continual rodent pressures.
Roof rats gaining access to a irrigation/sewer box just
outside of a residential home that has been
experiencing roof rat pressures for several months.
Somebody once told me that when people ask him “Can a roof rat…” he stops them right there and says “Yes.” He stated, “The moment I say no to a question, they (rats) turn around and prove me wrong. So I’ve just decided to say yes to every question.” That comment changed my entire perspective on rodent control.
If we truly take an IPM approach to problem solving, we will have less of these lingering pest issues in front of us.
IPM practices focus on food denial, pest proofing, removal of harborage and accessibility, monitoring (which can mean remote monitoring, in this day and age), trapping (I recommend pre-baiting) and baiting. You should start this process by surveying the property, graphing it out to identify activity and devise a plan based on your findings.
“Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom, sharing it, is the first step to humanity” ~Unknown
Please share your tips and experiences. Knowledge is much appreciated.