Got rats? How to detect and prevent a rodent infestation

With Fall fast approaching, rodents will soon start seeking shelter inside homes, warehouses, grocery stores, business - basically anywhere where there is food and a warm place to hide. And who wants rodents roaming in their space causing chaos and spreading infectious diseases? The damage these critters can cause should not be underestimated- rodent infestation is a serious problem and should be dealt with in an effective and timely manner. 

What is a Rodent Infestation?

Simply put, a rodent infestation is when rodents make your hard-won space their home. So persistent are their instincts to feed and survive that they will get into the area in any way possible, be it climbing, scurrying, squeezing, or even swimming. And if your space has a tiny crack or a hole, even just a dime-sized hole, these deadly vermin can squeeze in and start their process of destruction.

And in case you are thinking – “oh well, it just might be a few”! you are grossly underestimating their reproductive capability. They multiply at a rapid pace of around six litters yearly, with each litter producing 10 pups. Left alone, just 2 mice or rats can produce 20M offspring in 36 months. Before you know it, your facility can be quickly overrun by these vermin. So, as we say, nip the problem in the bud as quickly as possible, or else run the risk of having a big bite getting taken off your bottom line!

What is considered heavy rodent infestation?

When is the rodent infestation severe? Let us start answering that by saying that you may never see a mouse or a rat unless an infestation is severe. Large infestations make themselves evident through sightings, but the key here is never wait for the infestation to get severe. There are signs you should be looking out for and never turning a blind eye to.

There are several warning signs of a rodent infestation, and you can take steps to exclude further rodents into your business, like our Eco-Friendly EcoBloc units, which work as an invisible fence around your facility by emitting high-frequency ultrasonic waves and creating a hostile environment to repel rodents.

So how can you tell there are mice and rats in your facility?

Warning signs of a rodent infestation

Warning sign image for rodent infestation

There are several tell-tale signs which can tell you if there is a rodent infestation. These include:

  1. Rodent Tracks: Tiny footprints are an obvious sign; checking in places where dust collects easily or checking for grease trails in your facility is a way that you can detect rodents. The tracks may vary based on the type of rodent; for example, a roof rat may have a different track than a Norway rat. Rodents are very oily, and they leave marks when they travel up the wall or scurry through crevices that are very visible to the naked eye.

  2. Damaged Packaging: There may be several damaged boxes in your warehouse, your agricultural storage unit, or grocery store that you come across daily. Rodents can nibble through the boxes in search of food, water, and shelter. If you notice strange, suspicious holes or tear marks, rodents may likely be the cause. If you didn’t know, rodents contaminate and destroy about 20% of the world’s food supply!

  3. Chew Marks: It is not only cardboard boxes that are at the mercy of rodents; these tenacious creatures gnaw and chew their way through walls, furnishings, wiring, and cabling throughout the building, presenting a huge safety hazard for everyone in the building. These small indentations can be difficult to spot, as a rat’s tooth marks are about an eighth of an inch long but will be revealed through careful inspection.

  4. Droppings: Most common and easily spotted, the fecal matter these critters leave behind is a sign, and you need to watch out for areas with a significant number of droppings. They are places where the rodent population is running rampant and needs to be addressed immediately. Do note that the shape of the droppings may differ based on the type of rodent. For example, mice droppings are smaller than rat droppings, at about ¼ inch long.

infographic differentiating droppings of roof rat, mouse and norway rat

  1. (Image courtesy: Atpest)

  2. Odors: If you come across a musty and stale odor in your facility, it may be from rodents' urine. This odor grows stronger in proportion to infestation. Rodents may also die inside crevices or cracks, creating a rotting odor.

  3. Sounds: When we sleep, these critters get active. Their sounds can be heard from attics, ceilings, and walls. The sounds include gnawing, scampering, and scratching sounds.

  4. Holes or cracks: Holes in facilities may indicate rodent infestation since rodents gnaw to create holes through the material to gain access.

How to prevent and control a rodent infestation

Image of rodent trying to squeeze into a space

Being proactive is the smartest way to fight rodent infestation. The key steps in trying to forestall and, if need be, mitigating a rodent infestation are:

  1. Rodent-proofing structures is the first step to preventing rodent infestation. Rodent proofing encompasses all the steps taken to prevent rodents from entering the facilities in the first place. This includes blocking all the entryways, sealing unwanted openings with concrete and mortar, and practicing good sanitation methods.

The exact steps taken depend on the type of facility. For example, in a grocery store, this might include training the staff to identify an infestation, decluttering the store and keeping food products sealed, and clearing away debris.

Although we may practice the best hygiene, these pests are so tenacious that some of them manage to slip under our radar and get inside the facility.

  1. Rodent Control: We then have to deal with them through rodent control methods that include using rodent traps and rodent baits or by calling professional pest control. 

But each of these steps may have its own limitations and advantages. There is a strategy that you follow in a stepwise manner to deal with these pests, which is called Integrated Pest Management. All the steps are covered in our comprehensive guide (link here).

Suffering rodent infestation in your facility, whether it be a farm, food processing plant, warehouse or grocery store, can have disastrous consequences. The recent infestation at a Family Dollar logistics facility that resulted in a widespread recall of products and the temporary closure of a whopping 400 stores is just one of many examples of what rodents running rampant can accomplish.

The best strategy is to keep a wary eye open for signs of rodents together with rodent exclusion measures such as using EcoBloc systems and sealing up structures to deny access to rodents. This way, it may be possible to avoid rodent control measures such as poison baits and traps that often have significant adverse environmental impact.

Want to try EcoBloc to proactively prevent rodents from getting close to your building? Contact us (link here) today! 

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