Rat race: Businesses urged to consider pest-control options ahead of potential poison ban

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Unwanted guests: With the weather turning colder and damper, rodents are seeking refuge indoors
Unwanted guests: With the weather turning colder and damper, rodents are seeking refuge indoors
Hospitality business owners are facing a potential rodent infestation crisis ‘similar to that of the Great Plague’ as a number of common rodenticides could be banned from use, reducing the number of effective pest-control methods available.

Under the EU’s Biocidal Products Directive, a number of the more powerful pest poisons are being re-evaluated, including ‘anti-coagulant rodenticides’ (baits containing poison), due to the potential spread of disease that such methods can cause.

If the legislation goes ahead, the number of products available to pest controllers to control rodents will be reduced which, coupled with evidence to suggest that some rodents are becoming more resistant to poisons, could make the task of tackling a growing pest problem more difficult for business owners.

The Great Plague

Julie Birch, marketing manager of pest control experts Rentokil, said: “Concerns were raised by many parties in 2010, who were worried about how this legislation change could trigger an explosion of rats and mice across Europe, as there would be fewer effective control measures to tackle these pests. Some believed the proposal was ‘crazy’ and could result in a surge in rodent numbers similar to that seen during the Great Plague.”

The pest control industry, and the hospitality managers they work with, are therefore being urged to act quickly to identify new ways to monitor and treat rodent problems. One method being offered is RADAR (Rodent Activated Detection And Riddance).

The RADAR unit has two entrances, one at each end of the unit, allowing mice to run through its passageway. If the mouse breaks two consecutive infrared beams, it trips a circuit that immediately closes both entrances. Once the mouse is inside the sealed chamber, carbon dioxide gas is released.

The Mice Monitoring Unit will detect the presence of mice passing through it using an infrared sensor.

Another method of monitoring rodent populations is to use the mouse monitor unit. This is a non-toxic way of giving you an early warning of mouse activity. The unit uses infra-red sensor technology to detect the presence of mice passing through it. The LED will flash when a mouse passes through and will continue to do so until a pest technician comes to analyse the situation.

“It is vital that businesses and home owners remain aware of the health risk posed by rodent infestations,” added Birch. “Rats can spread infections such as Salmonella, Hantavirus and the potentially fatal Weil’s Disease, as well as cause damage to stock and buildings.

“As well as health risks, rodents can also have negative effects on business. Damage to goods and foodstuffs can affect health and hygiene ratings, but also a business’ reputation. As obvious as it may sound, a rodent infestation will cause alarm amongst customers and clients, which could potentially result in the immediate loss of customer and employee trust.”

Top tips to remaining pest-free:

  • Be vigilant. “You must take the necessary precautions to prevent an infestation from occurring,” said Birch. “Gaps - even as small as the size of a ball-point pen- can provide easy access for rats and mice looking for a home during the winter so it is important to plug up any holes.”
  • Look around you. “As well as surveying your own building, you should also talk to those in charge of neighbouring buildings. It’s highly likely that if the next building to you has a rodent problem, you will too.”
  • Ask the experts. “Whether you’re dealing with a rodent problem or are simply looking to prevent one, it’s important that you know who to contact. “If you’re in any doubt as to what substances you can and can’t use, or how to use them, then it’s always best to check with the experts.”

Read our ASK THE EXPERTS column on how to keep your hospitality business free of pests here.

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