I just spoke with a buddy of mine who also has a pest control company, and we were both astonished at the rise of calls for rodents in the last year. We shared our theories as to why, and I also offered that the calls for rats were significantly higher than for mice.
Does COVID have something to do with it? Are the rats not only immune but thrive on the disease? I remember when a lot of restaurants shut down it created a hardship for restaurant owners and their employees to maintain a living. Was there extra food lying around, was sanitation an issue if the existing staff was stretched as it was? Certainly this could be one possibility.
Construction of new homes is always a part of the answer, when any kind of wildlife is asked to evacuate their natural habitat to make homes for people. Rodents especially thrive when more people move in, rodents are commensal which means they feed off our table. We provide most of their food.
Backyard chicken farming has certainly increased, or at least appears to have increased. Many of the rodent control calls we receive relates to a nearby backyard chicken coop. This reminds me that it’s possible many people don’t know that rodents love bird seed. In fact, many of the commercial bait products we use as pest management professionals are made up of essentially three ingredients, a small amount of poison to kill the rodent, enough waxy material to hold it together in a delicious chewable form, and a combination of bird seeds to attract the rodents to feed.
Whatever the reason for the increased calls, rodents in and around your home isn’t exactly fun, instead it can be dangerous. I recommend at least a quick inventory around the home to see if you have any attractants for these vermin. Bird feeders are a big no-no for pest controllers. Chicken coops are, well chickens are just large birds and the coops are just large bird feeders. Pet food not properly contained can be an attractant. I personally put my dog food in a cooler in the garage, but a better option is the old-fashioned corrugated metal garbage cans with a tight-fitting lid. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen rats chew straight through a plastic container. Fallen fruit is sometimes an issue, as is overgrown brambles of blackberries. Mulch bins are good for the environment, also rodents-they love them.
Every pest needs food, water, and harborage to survive. Without these three things life becomes difficult and a move becomes mandatory. In Portland there is plenty of water so that is quite difficult to remove. When I started doing it was in California, where water is scarce. One of the bait options is a liquid bait, that just isn’t feasible is the rain forest we live in. Is there a food supply nearby? Remove it and the rodents will need to travel farther. Are there harborage sites on the property? Often we’ll see firewood piles and other kinds of stacked up storage where rodents can easily burrow underneath. Sheds are wonderful, but if they don’t have a solid foundation they can protect multiple families of rodents. Sometimes it’s impossible to remove all the attractants from a property, we see it all the time. But limiting the resources of rodents near your home or business will decrease the likelihood of them getting inside.