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PULSE BAITING: THE ECONOMIC WAY TO KEEP RATS AT BAY

Using the pulse baiting technique gives pest managers the option to deliver rodent control using fewer blocks of bait.

The word rodent comes from the Latin verb ‘rodere’ meaning ‘to gnaw’. Living up to their name, a rodent will continue to gnaw away at a bait – assuming they find it sufficiently attractive – even after they have received a lethal dose. This essentially wastes product that pest managers have spent time and energy placing, and prevents other rats from being able to consume it.

Pulse baiting is a clean-out treatment to remove existing infestations of rats and mice that takes rodent behaviour into account. The technique was introduced into pest management regimes alongside single-feed anticoagulant rodenticides such as brodifacoum, the highly potent and effective active ingredient in Talon XT Pro. Research shows that single-feed solutions require far less bait compared to multi-feed solutions on the market. For example, a median lethal dose of brodifacoum bait such as Talon XT Pro is as low as 0.2g for mice, just 6% of their typical daily feed intake, and 1.3g for rats, just 5% of their typical daily feed intake.1 This is where pulse baiting proves itself to be a particularly effective technique, as it enables pest managers to use less bait to deliver a rapid reduction in rodent populations for customers.

Pulse baiting provides a highly effective alternative to more traditional saturation baiting techniques, leading to significant savings in both labour and bait quantities. Traditional saturation techniques often lead to the rodent population becoming over familiar with the bait, and ultimately to bait avoidance. Whereas pulse baiting takes a single-feed solution – such as Talon XT Pro – and uses staggered baiting to ensure effective pest control.

Talon Wax Blocks

The premise of the technique is to restrict baiting to small quantities that are laid out at weekly intervals, or ‘pulses’. The first application, or pulse, may be completely consumed by rodents, but is not immediately replenished. Instead, the rodents that took the initial bait are given time to die. Only after this occurs is more bait put out for rodents that did not eat during the first pulse. This process is repeated until there are no further signs of rodent activity. As well as overcoming issues of bait avoidance, this method deliberately prevents rodents from consuming more bait than required to be controlled in a single lethal dose, which means gaining quick control using less product.

The pulse baiting technique is built on knowledge of typical rat and mouse behaviour. Among certain rodent species, notably Rattus norvegicus, animals of a lower hierarchical ranking often do not feed until the more dominant animals have been removed. Interval baiting strategies, like pulse baiting, exploit this behaviour by replacing baits only after the initial amount has been consumed, therefore ensuring the demise of the more dominant animals in the first pulse of treatment.

Rats are creatures of habit and are often referred to as being ‘neophobic’ suggesting they have a fear of unfamiliar objects in their environment. For this reason it is essential when pulse baiting to wait until the first round has been consumed, to ensure that the rats have had the chance to acclimatise to the new bait station.

Once the population is under control, monitoring/maintenance treatments are made easier with a product such as Talon Wax Blocks. With one of

the widest placement intervals on the market for maintenance, at up to 30 metres, pest managers can more efficiently control rodents for their customers in the long term, as well as in short-term clean-outs.

Rats have a preference for food sources that are fresh. Keeping bait fresh and attractive to rodents must be a priority when providing effective rodent control services. Pulse baiting is a particularly useful technique since using smaller baiting quantities ensures that baits remain fresh and at least as attractive as other food sources in the area. For monitoring purposes, it pays to use a wax block that has proven high durability, such as Talon XT Pro, to ensure that bait is extra fresh.

Using Talon XT Pro and a pulse baiting technique ensures cost- effective rodent control with reduced quantities of bait verses traditional methods, while also ensuring baits remain fresh, and avoidance from familiarisation issues are managed.

Michael De Luca, Technical Manager, Syngenta

1 Dubock, A. (1982). Pulsed Baiting – A New Technique for High Potency, Slow Acting Rodenticides. Proceedings of the Tenth Vertebrate Pest Conference (1982). Paper 11. 10. 123-136.

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