Jay Turner of Laguna Pest Control shares his advice on how to successfully bait rodents.
When I load up any rat bait station or do roof cavity baiting, I prefer to use a minimum of three different types of bait, ideally with three different matrices. Personally, I don’t like to put too much reliance on one particular bait, I provide a choice.
The rat-bait ‘kebab’
Over the years, I have found that although a particular bait may work well at one site, it may not necessarily work at the next site or even work at the same site next month. I’m sure anybody who does a few commercial rodent maintenance programs would have witnessed this behaviour – where at one site the rodents have predominately hit one type of bait, but then at different site predominately feed on a different bait.
The main reason for this is obviously species. Certain baits are obviously more palatable to different species and different sites can be dominated by different species, which can change over time.
Of course, rodents have food preferences, which can also switch for various reasons, particularly for something lacking in their diet. For instance, a grain-based bait may not work as well as a wax block around a bird aviary.
Having a choice of baits available to the rodents allows for any switch in species or even food preference at that site.
By no means am I recommending the bait types in my photos. This ‘kebab’ works for me up in Noosa (predominately roof rats), whereas when I worked in Victoria (in an area dominated by mice, then Norway rats), our go to combination was three completely different bait types.
There are lots of good rodent baits on the market. Find three or four that work for you, and when new ones come on the market or come with a promotion, it doesn’t hurt to give them a run and throw a block or two in your stations. You will soon see if they like it!
Another trick I find useful when roof cavity baiting is to place one bait each side of the manhole. These are what I call my indicator baits, and are typically the last to be consumed.
From experience, I have found that the level of feeding on these indicator baits is generally a fair reflection of the level of consumption of baits across the whole roof void.
During an inspection, if all four of these baits are gone you can assume that so would the majority of the other baits in the roof, if half the bait is gone then you can assume at least half of the other baits are gone and if the baits haven’t been touched you can assume there is still plenty of bait remaining in the roof. If you have used a combination of baits it becomes quickly apparent if they have a preference for certain baits and are ignoring others.
It is only a rough guide, but it is a quick way of assessing the need for bait replenishment, rather than clambering through the roof trying to spot your baits and remember how many baits you placed up there previously and more importantly, avoiding constantly placing unnecessary amounts of bait in the roof. Assuming the homeowner is able bodied and can step up a ladder it can also be a more accurate way for the homeowner to monitor when your next service is due rather than simply waiting until they hear noises or just scheduling it in annually.
Protecting your bait
Eventually you will have a site where snails and slugs are consuming more bait than rodents or excessive water from hosing or sprinklers is destroying more bait than rodents. An easy fix is using plastic quick seal or sandwich bags over your preferred baits. There is a possibility that it may reduce the palatability of the bait but it is a far sight better than wet sloppy bait.
Jay Turner, Laguna Pest Control