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Rodent numbers traditionally increase in March/April and September/October and it’s during these periods that people are most likely to complain of seeing rodents in plain view in densely populated areas such as built up CBD areas and informal settlements. In a recent article published on 14th March 2014 in the Durban North Fever, “Rat plague worries” residents of Durban’s North Suburbs complained of seeing rats the size of kittens in the bin area of their local shopping complex.
Furthermore, on the 20th March 2014, the City of Cape Town issued a press statement, “Waste management key to reducing rat population”, appealing to communities to “dispose of their waste responsibly as this is a key contributing factor to the size of the rat population.” Capetonians and Durbanites alike would do well to follow this advice, as rats are associated with asthma, rabies and Lyme disease, as well as the spread of viruses and parasites.
Rentokil, a household name for professional pest control in South Africa, advises that a rodent infestation in commercial or industrial buildings can have a detrimental effect on the reputation of a business, whether it’s a restaurant, shopping complex or factory. Most employees or customers feel alarmed when they see rats and start to doubt the standard of the health and hygiene of the particular business. Apart from losing customers, the business may also suffer damage to goods and may even be forced to close its doors for a while.
Rentokil provides facts on how rodents can gain entry to premises:
“Rats are more than capable of fitting into space the size of a coin. Their bodies contain soft cartilage which makes it possible for them to squeeze through spaces and gaps that at first glance may appear much too small for them. Small cracks or holes in floors, sidewalk grates or vents are an easy way to get to a warm area”, says Rentokil’s Technical Manager, Mario Pluke.
“Most rats can chew through metals such as copper and aluminium. Because rodents have teeth that grow continuously, they gnaw at things to whittle down their incisors”, Pluke continues.
Not only are rats able to fit though tiny openings and chew through various materials, but they also dig under building foundations or openly use windows or doors to get to food and water. Rats can thrive on just an ounce of food and water daily, so if they find even that, the chances that they will remain in the area is very high.
“Rats have excellent memories, so once they’ve learnt a path, they never forget it, and soon others will follow. Once the first trace of rats is detected, it is advisable to call in the pest control experts as soon as possible”, Pluke advises.
Along with the advice from the City of Cape Town, Rentokil has some additional advice on preventing rodents from frequenting premises:
1. Seal all cracks and gaps in exterior walls which provide access to voids or interior areas
2. Fill all cracks in slabs and gaps in expansion joints
3. Clean up all food spillages immediately.
4. Open food containers attract rodents and should therefore be sealed and put away as soon as possible.
5. Make sure all rubbish bins have tightly sealed lids
6. Keep compost enclosed and covered