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The winter rodent problem

Many businesses and organisations are under the impression that once summer is over and the climate becomes colder, that their potential pest concerns are over for the year. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Common pests such as insects and wasps will have certainly withdrawn, but vermin such as rats and mice will be seeking shelter from the cold outdoors and looking for areas that are warm and where food is available.

Commercial buildings are ideal for this type of pest, as they provide much larger spaces for rats or mice to make nests and hoard food than domestic properties. With the ongoing pandemic and the increase in vacant commercial properties, rat and mice infestations are on the rise causing significant damage to buildings, electrics and pipework whilst also posing a serious health and safety threat.

Natalie Bungay, BPCA Technical Officer, said: “As temperatures begin to drop and food becomes scarce, rats will begin looking for shelter and scraps in more urban locations. And as autumn and winter push on, rats start to head indoors.

“Rats and mice do not hibernate and are a problem all year round. House mice are already living in and around wherever we are. But as the weather gets colder, field mice currently surviving outdoors will look for warmer places to nest and begin to move indoors too.

“They are highly adaptable and won’t hesitate to take advantage of a warm place to nest during the winter months.”

Natalie added: “In these unprecedented times, we need to ensure that effective pest management is implemented. During the lockdown, as designated key workers, the professional pest management sector is working hard to protect homes, as well as key areas including healthcare environments such as hospitals, the food manufacturing industry, and farms too.

Rodents and many other pests carry and transmit diseases, and can breed at an alarming rate if left unattended. They contaminate food, ruin stock, and can even cause fires and floods with their gnawing. Pro-active pest management is the best way we can manage the risks to public health and safety.”

Some rodent activity signs to look out for

Property managers should be on regular look out for the more common signs of a rodent problem, these can include the following –

  • Rodents like to chew, particularly on anything that could be a potential food item. Keep an eye out for signs of gnawing, especially around warehouses or stock rooms that hold products.
  • Signs of nesting usually include shredded paper, plants or anything that could be used to make a nest or heat insulated bedding. You most likely won’t directly discover a nest as they are usually out of sight, so it’s important to check the less utilised areas thoroughly for any signs of shredded material lying around.
  • Rodent droppings are very easy to identify and will immediately indicate a rat or mouse problem. Before clearing these, it is often worth making a mental note of areas with a high volume of faeces as it can provide useful information for a pest controller to address the problem locations.
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Some simple preventative measures

Removing any food sources will immediately make your building less attractive for rodents. Of course, this isn’t always possible, so always ensure that food isn’t widely available and any rubbish is cleaned and stored in secured containers. You should also disable any potential water sources too as rodents will certainly appreciate a regular drink, so ensure that leaky taps or pipes are completely water-tight.

Ensure that entry points are completely sealed by checking vents, doors and windows for any holes that could let vermin enter. Roofs are a particular favourite entry point for rodents, as they are the most likely areas to have holes, particularly where the eaves meet the roof, so ensure that these are all filled appropriately. Mice can often squeeze through gaps half an inch wide, so it’s important to be quite vigilant during your checks.

By identifying problems early, property managers can save themselves a lot of stress, time and money by rectifying issues before they can escalate.

We are a BPCA (British Pest Control Association) accredited team with over 20 years’ experience dealing with all kinds of pest control issues for both public and private sector organisations. Our team can offer free professional advice for any situation and believe us when we say, we’ve seen it all.

Our rapid-response service can attend a site within 24 hours and advise on the most effective solution for your pest problem. If you would like to speak to a member of our team, or would like more information, then please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

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