While all pest species present a nuisance to customers, it is worth remembering that rodents are well worth the time and effort to control due to the significant health risks they pose.
There are many reasons why we consider rodents to be pests, any one of which would be sufficient to want to rid our properties of them. Remembering these key reasons can certainly help in selling rodent treatments and can be used to encourage customers to carry out the necessary preventative measures to avoid future infestations.
Phobia – the irrational fear of rats and mice is surprisingly common, particularly associated with running rodents. The reality is that rodents should be more frightened of humans, but then again phobias are irrational. Even for those who do not have phobias, the sound of rodents in the roof – ‘things that go bump in the night’ can still be frightening, or at the very least annoying.
Disease carriers – rats and mice are known to transmit up to 35 different diseases, some of them potentially fatal. The most notorious is doubtless the bubonic plague or ‘black death’ which has caused millions of deaths since Roman times. The disease is actually caused by the Yersinia pestis bacterium, which is transmitted from rats to humans by the oriental rat flea. Here in Australia, leptospirosis (a bacterial infection that can give rise to a range of symptoms, sometimes severe leading to death) or typhus fever are more likely to be transmitted, often through close contact with infected rodents, their urine and faeces and contaminated food.
Consumption and contamination of foodstuffs – the consumption of human food and animal feed by rodents has a very real financial cost. Indeed, for some in many parts of the world the loss of food to rodents can mean the difference between life and death. As well as directly eating the food, they contaminate even greater quantities by their droppings, urine and shed hairs and the food needs to be thrown out or destroyed due to the risk of disease.
Physical damage – both rats and mice need to gnaw continually to prevent their incisor teeth from growing too long. They may also gnaw to gain access to food containers and nesting sites – in one warehouse, the rats were chewing the ends off 1.25 litre plastic bottles, filling them with shredded shrink-wrap and using them for nesting! Rodents are also thought to be responsible for a fair proportion of house fires to which no cause could be apportioned.