Rodent numbers and rat behaviours have changed during the COVID shutdowns, meaning pest managers have had to take a modified approach to rodent control.

Rodent numbers are on the rise worldwide, thanks to lockdown laws in response to the corona virus pandemic. When Governments began to shut down non-essential services earlier this year in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus, the move also brought with it an increase in rodent numbers.

With pubs, restaurants and cafés closed due to lockdown laws, the rodents’ natural environment conditions changed; their once reliable food sources temporarily stopped, and with no disturbance from human interaction and a lack of food sources, rodents were free to openly roam the streets and buildings. Rodents have modified their behaviour, adapting to find new food sources in different environments, commercial and residential areas.

Reports in Australia and indeed worldwide detail a widespread increase in rodent activity with rodents brazenly roaming the streets both day and night. A survey by the British Pest Control Association found an increase of 51% in rat activity and 41% in mouse activity, with rats in particular becoming more visible as populations move further a eld to satisfy their need for a food source. Meanwhile in the US, some local councils have expanded rodent baiting programs to increase kill rates while their food service outlets are temporarily closed.

The backyard veggie patch is under threat as rodents expand their territories

As rodents migrate into new areas looking for alternative food sources, the beloved backyard veggie patch may prove to be the new best restaurant in town, especially for the inner city suburban areas. People who have never had a rodent problem before may be facing unwanted visitors, so it’s a great opportunity to communicate with your residential accounts to see if they have noticed any activity around their house or require an inspection.

For physical barriers and harbourage areas, pest managers should re- inspect buildings for any new entry points – desperate times call for desperate measures, and rodents may have altered physical barriers around a building in desperation while foraging for new food sources in areas that were not previously accessible. Cracks or holes around the outside of the building should also be sealed, as well as pipes and utility lines. Clients should be encouraged to keep grass and vegetation short, cut back trees overhanging the roof, and eliminate clutter and debris outside.

Pest managers should be alert for claw marks that indicate where rodents are tracking

For baiting programs, pest managers should reassess rodent species and population numbers as this may have changed, and ensure there are enough baiting points and stations secured around a building. With a lack of competing food sources, bait uptake may increase, so higher frequency of inspection and rebaiting is recommended.

As isolation requirements ease, the number of rodent food sources will also increase

As lockdown restrictions ease, rodent populations are set to soar as the number of competing food sources increases. Liphatech recommends the use of a rodenticide with increased palatability such as First Strike and Resolv Soft Bait. Developed by Liphatech, the products contain a matrix of no wax, high-grade food fire fined cereals and vegetable oils, and Liphatech’s own discovered active ingredient in difethialone and bromadiolone.

First Strike (difethialone) is available at Globe, Garrards, Agserv and David Gray, while Resolv Soft Bait (bromadiolone) is available at Garrards.