Controlling rats and mice is getting more difficult in many areas, but new solutions are being developed all the time to help, according to speakers at a series of training seminars organised by Essex Environmental Supplies and UK rodenticide manufacturer PelGar International this month.
Professional pest controllers from the South East, Manchester and the Midlands heard how factors such as changes in some rat and mouse behaviour are affecting the way they work.
New approach to city mouse control
Independent rodent behaviour expert Dr Steve Havers described trials he carried out to find out why some populations of inner city mice were avoiding cereal based products traditionally used to bait shops, cinemas and other town centre premises.
Given the choice of lard, canary seed, peanut butter and tuna as a feed source, mice were seen to favour the foods high in protein. It is thought that a genetic mutation has led to some mice no longer being able to digest carbohydrates and sugars, and this is driving the behavioural resistance to grain baits.
A novel way to overcome this problem is to use a non-feed rodenticide, such as a contact gel, with mice ingesting the active ingredient while cleaning their feet or grooming.
Further trials, carried out by Dr Havers in an underground duct of a grain store – where whole grain wheat was freely available, showed that total control was achieved within three weeks once Roban Contact Gel was put down.
Choose the right product
PelGar International’s technical director Dr Jonathan Wade urged pest controllers to consider all the product options when deciding how to deal with each particular case.
“There is no universal product that will work everywhere,” said Dr Wade. “Sites and the level of infestation will vary, as will the level of resistance to some of the active ingredients. Some formulations will be much more appropriate than others.
“This is why we are defending all three second generation anti-coagulants, difenacoum, bromadiolone and brodifacoum, through the European Biocides Directive, and are constantly designing and developing new formulations at our factory in Hampshire.
“We are determined to offer a product for every situation, be it grain bait, wax block, pasta, pellets and contact gel. We have just launched the new highly palatable Roban Excel block, a neat, tidy and secure alternative to loose wheat baits, ideal for using in city centre sites.”
Keep upto date with the law
While choosing the right product is crucial to successful control, being aware of the rules and regulations surrounding the use of rodenticides is essential.
Paul Butt, a wildlife management adviser for Natural England, provided information on the legislation that pest controllers need to be aware – including the legal and humane use of traps, changes to the Deer Act, and the protection of species such as Great Crested Newts, bats and otters. He also raised the likely impact of the recently introduced Animal Welfare Act. The importance of the correct storage, use and disposal of pesticides was also stressed.
He advised pest controllers to keep up to date with changes and revisions to the legislation by attending training courses, making use of technical advisory notes produced by Natural England, and information available from the BPCA, NPTA and other industry sources.