A PMP EDUCATIONAL UPDATE  |  JUNE 2020  |  View online
DTY Rodent Management
Stay ahead of roaming rats duringthe COVID-19 pandemic


A recent study1 suggested that Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) can be trained to use tools. The study investigated whether rats were able to choose appropriate hook-shaped tools to obtain food, based upon three-dimensional arrangements of the tool and food. After training, the rats were able to choose the appropriate hooks. The results suggest that rats understand the three-dimensional and physical relationships among tools, food and self.

As the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic continue, more and more restaurants and food facilities are adversely affected and challenged to operate with a social distancing strategy. However, rats have no such restrictions, and with real rat smarts, these pesky pilferers are even more problematic for pest management professionals (PMPs).

With numerous commercial food facilities in various states of shutdown, rats may be quarantining inside. Non-rotated stored foods become spoiled foods. As rats exploit such opportunities, populations can explode — exponentially threatening public health, food and structures. Additionally, stockpiling or hoarding of food by urban residents, and resultant increases in trash and other waste, can significantly perpetuate rat, cockroach and fly populations, exacerbating the threat to public health even further.

To outsmart rats, and as an essential part of integrated pest management (IPM), passive monitoring systems with built-in sensing technology can provide essential service PMPs with situational real-time or critical decision-making information to strategize identification, control and elimination. Additionally, passive monitoring with built-in sensing technology provides information to determine whether rodent control device service is necessary (maintaining social distancing) as well as time-efficient corrective actions and elimination of root causes, which provides facility clients with assurance that pesky rodents do not threaten sensitive operations.

Passive monitoring systems with built-in sensing technology are deployed over long-term periods, reliably collecting information 24/7/365 to optimize the elimination of rats. Essential to rodent control device efficacy is site placement.

Based upon a thorough inspection, place devices in high activity areas, near heat sources, along shadowed wall areas, and where rodents feel safe.2 Keep track of the number of males and females; there should be a general ratio of 1:1. Note pregnant females. Pregnant females with teats will indicate how many juveniles are still within the facility. For maximum survival of young, the female will stay close to the nest.3

With regard to mice, a trigger trap study by Dr. Bobby Corrigan and Purdue University demonstrated the following:4

  • 79% of mice were captured in the head or neck region; most mice approached the traps head-first.
  • 15% of mice were captured in the mid-torso region.
  • 3% of mice were captured by the hind feet (attempting to jump over trap placements).
  • Traps placed closest to the wall significantly reduced mouse escapes (less room for maneuver).
  • Few mice escaped where the trap triggers were set closest to wall surfaces.
  • Previous trap capture odors do not repel rodents, and may be more attractive (pheromones and favorable odors).
Using rodent control devices with built-in sensing technology provide PMPs with the ability to track when and where rodents are traveling within bait stations. With reliable features of Bluetooth communication via app, integrated battery, and an exclusive sensor/antenna, water- and weather-proof sensors collect timestamps of rodent activity while PMPs are on-site conducting service. The data gathered empowers PMPs to improve service, knowing when to add additional bait stations or rodenticide, or where to move bait stations to outsmart rat smarts.

For protecting public health and safety, we thank all essential service PMPs.

1 Animal Cognition 2017, 20 (2): 199-213
2,3 Robert Corrigan, et al.
4 Rodent Control, A Practical Guide for Pest Management Professionals, 2001, Robert Corrigan, et al.

Stuart Mitchell, DO, DVM, PsyD, BCE, is an entomologist, veterinarian, observing physician and consulting clinical psychologist, and a regular contributor to Pest Management Professional's Direct to You series.

PMP’s Direct To You provides pest management professionals with educational refreshers on timely and critical topics essential to operational success. This content is not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice where you live. Look for the content-rich PMP Direct To You archives at mypmp.net/direct-to-you-archive.

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