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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Rats don’t take holidays (AKA: I’m the weird tourist)

You know how after you do something for a long time it sort of gets stuck in your brain and you see it everywhere? Like after you learn about pine trees, you suddenly notice all the pine trees everywhere you go? It’s as if your brain subconsciously picks it out and directs your eyes right to it. After spending over a decade in urban pest management, I can’t escape it anywhere I go.

I see things like this and instead of looking at the amazing old building that is a major attraction, I’m taking pictures of this:

And my brain starts going into overdrive.

  • Why do they have so many bait stations? They must be having a major rodent issue.

  • All these people around, is this a risk? Of course all these tourists are probably dropping food.

  • Are those actually anchored? The rules in this country could differ from the US though.

  • What are the conducive conditions around here? Oh, yeah, major construction going on.

  • Is this really the best placement for these? I can’t see the entire site so maybe, maybe not.

  • Baits or traps in these? I know using rodenticides here is more limited than in the US.

With this many stations and the location of this site, I am guessing there is a significant rodent issue. Since this is a major tourist destination, the huge number of people are going to be visiting, eating, and dropping bits of food. Even if they aren’t dropping food, the trash cans are often overflowing which leaves a nice food source. There are many cafés with outdoor seating, many small shops like fruit markets, cheese shops, butchers, and more that have open storefronts. Plenty of food resources for the rodents to take advantage of. There is also a major river very close: so water is plentiful too.

I mentioned the major construction project that was going on. This disturbs rodents from their hiding spots and forces them out and into other areas. It’s a good bet that all these rodent stations are very necessary to help keep the rodent populations down because of all these conducive conditions.

As with any pest control tool, placement is key. You may notice from this picture

that many of the devices are upside down. While rodents can still access them, it’s not ideal and getting to the bait may be harder for them. If there are snap traps in these (instead of bait), the trap is not going to work upside down. If it is this easy to flip them over, they are not very well anchored and they definitely weren’t weighted. It also makes me wonder how often these devices are checked. Considering everything going on, I would hope they are being checked at least once a week if there is bait in the stations, more often if there are only traps.

Seeing where they are placed, against the fence, I probably would have suggested moving them. From this picture, I would put them up against the cement wall in the background, and/or under the brush where the burrows and hiding spots likely were. This would also move it further away from the tourists. While this area is restricted by the fence and people shouldn’t be in there, the stations up against the fence line could be kicked, disturbed, picked up, or otherwise tampered with by curious people. I know I have almost taken off a finger by picking up a station by the holes and had a snap trap go off!

There was one more thing I saw that concerns me and makes me think that this wasn’t the most effective program:

Yep, that’s a dead rat right outside of that fence (tourist side). It’s just a guess, but I think it likely died of rodenticide. Also a guess: it has not been dead for long, maybe a day or two. Why do I think that and what does it matter? It is still whole, no obvious injuries, not decomposed, and no insect activity. It matters because

1. There is a dead rodent for all to see!

2. This can attract other pests and rats will feed on their own dead.

3. Secondary poisoning from rodenticides is a possibility for animals that may feast on this (though research is still out on how likely or realistic that is).

4. Between how the stations looked, and the dead rat laying there, it indicates the area is not being checked very often.

So control may actually be lacking because of empty stations, misplaced stations, and no inspections.

It may seem like I’m tearing apart their program and that I think they are doing it all wrong. That is not the case. They are doing something, which is better than nothing. They do have lots of stations out, the stations are doing their job (there are dead rodents), and they recognize the need for control. It’s my job to improve pest control programs by looking at the entire situation and providing recommendations. I get called in “blind” and usually don’t have all the information, just like being at this site. Having someone outside your organization take an objective look at the situation can help to make things better and provide a new view on the situation.

If you want some additional help with a certain location, or your pest control programs in general, contact me, we can help!

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