Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rodent Control - It's A Community Effort

This article was provided to us by our friends at Team Pest USA. Great info regarding common rodents dealt with here in our area! For more info, please feel free to contact Team Pest USA at info@pestusa.com. They also provide great info on their website - http://www.pestusa.com/
Rodent Control – It's A Community Effort
House Mouse
Rats we have issues here in Georgia with what are called “commensal rodents” - examples: House Mouse, Roof Rat and Norway Rat. Commensal means to “share ones table” - so the like to live where we do and they quickly adjust to our community. Rats can survive on just an ounce of food but require water daily - so when they enter a community, they are attracted to bird feeders, people feeding stray cats, improperly maintained dumpsters, terrain such as ponds and creeks, Juniper ground erosion cover, grills left un-cleaned, trash cans and even stacked wood. In this day and age, with many units being left vacant due to foreclosure, it is very common for these units to contain old appliances left with food in them, etc. Zero to little air flow is an indication to the rodent species that they can begin to set up a colony and create a home right in the unit or in any accessible attic.
Norway Rat
Roof Rat
A community effort works best, where everyone in the neighborhood takes steps at the same time to prevent rats from entering the buildings and to remove their food and shelter. If rats are living in and around your association, here are several items to consider at the first sign of noises in the attic or walls.
Thorough Inspection from a TRUSTED professional
In an HOA or Condo/Townhome Community where a board association is established, many times taking time to make a decision can cost thousands of dollars even permanent life-threatening damage.
Hearing sounds
  • Check attic spaces at any time (during the day or night) if noises are evident. Keep it dark and listen for any scurrying sounds. If you have a black light shine it and see if urine illuminates.
  • Listen for scratching and or gnawing sounds.
 
Check your surroundings                                            
  • Inspect for holes around the slab, rocks, next to sidewalks and Juniper beds. You will see an entrance and an exit hole. Mostly the one found OPEN is the exit. Rats will typically cover the entrance with debris.
  • Inspect your bottom doors, windows, corner baseboards and wires in the attic for gnaw marks and droppings.
  • If your garage or attic has a lot of stored bins, pull them back off the wall a couple feet to see if you have droppings and/or holes chewed open.
  • Check the Hot water heater or the drip pans of AC units for fresh (dark) droppings 
Entry Points Located
By doing the inspection you can determine how vulnerable your home is to infestation
  • Protrusions in the walls or foundations, from electrical lines and pipes not sealed.
  • If you can see sunlight around your doors and windows and roof lines then your home is OPEN for business.
  • Daily deliveries and even parked cars for a long period of time 
Get the Rats Out and Keep Them Out
Here is a simple approach to accomplishing this task. Once rats move in it can be a challenge to break what we call in the industry "Creating a Generation Gap"!
  • Keep dumpster areas clean. Restrict Gas Grills or require that grills must be kept inside and cleaned. Eliminate bird feeders. This is the number one cause in communities. Keep all debris from being stacked in back yards. Keep lawns mowed. Don’t leave food dishes out on the patio. Clean up pet fecal matter from walking areas.
  • Keep external storage units sealed and all shelving up at a height of 18 inches above the floor. Clean behind all appliances once a quarter. Outdoors - restrict trash cans and trash from back yards and wooded areas. Be sure to pile wood and other yard materials in plastic bins and away from the structure. Keep weeds under control under stairs and make sure bare spots are sodded and/or landscaped.
  • Install the proper sealers for all doors exposed to the exterior. Seal all open gaps on the foundation and siding. Seal all vents if the structure is a crawl/basement (to prevent gnawing) with sheet metal or hardware cloth. This makes a proper seal around all the pipes and wire openings into the structure with pieces metal that are gauged to not allow rats (that cannot easily gnaw through metal).
Controlling the Rats
There are basically two methods to control rodents and keep them away. Keep in mind that both need to be performed by a trained professional.
LIVE Traps. Examples - Vector Wooden snap traps, T-Rex Spring loaded plastic traps and heavy weighted glue boards. In order to monitor the activity you may first need to place several glue traps in areas where you think (based on droppings or smells) that rats are traveling. Rats are color blind and see only blurred images, so place the boards in areas against walls, as the rats use their whiskers to get from "Point A" (the NEST) to the food source. Keep glue boards out of the reach of children, pets and cleaning agents! Keep all of your food in plastic containers and check all boxed foods for chewing and droppings in/or around the items. 
Rodenticide. These are mainly anticoagulants - meaning the rodents will bleed to death internally. You can buy all types of rodenticide on the internet and even at the grocery store. The good news is that the Lethal Dosage is typically a lot safer than one would think. However all poisons should be administered by a professional at all times. They need to be contained in a child proof container. Once placed, they need to be checked, cleaned and refreshed at a minimum of every 30 days. Rodenticide, once placed into a rodent box, has a shelf life of about 30 days. Much depends on the weather, heat and consumption of the rats themselves. Rat boxes don’t kill rats. The stuff inside is supposed to. If you don’t use a good product that the Rats “want to eat” then even the stuff inside might not work. Google "Bell Labs" and visit their website for all the MSDS and Labels for product usage.
Rodent Control
Once rodents are observed it needs to become a community concern.

Our Company has been called in on new infestations where the HOA/homeowners have already called the health department. The HOA's or homeowners' goal needs to be to emphasize prevention first - not wait until a problem already exists to take action. If rats set up a colony, its important to start killing them faster that they can reproduce. This is a key step in control and possible elimination. Once a problem exists, it may take years to not only control the rats - but (of infinitely more importance) to move them to another area.

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