Rats and Mice
Rats and mice are almost always present throughout cities and suburban areas due to the opportunities for food and shelter afforded by human activity. In established suburbs, food and water is readily available from such things as fruit trees and pet food.
We mainly see 2 types of rats. The Roof Rat and the Norway Rat. Here’s an infosheet to assist you with identifying which rat has taken up residency at your property.
Norway rats (also known as sewer rats) eat a wide variety of foods but mostly prefer cereal grains, meats, fish, nuts and some fruits or pet food. They will travel an area of about 30-50 metres from their burrows or nests in search of food or water.
Roof rats prefer fruits, nuts, berries, avocados, slugs and snails. They often eat fruit that is still on the tree. When feeding on an orange they make a small hole in the rind through which they completely eat the inside of the orange, leaving only the hollowed out rind hanging on the tree. They will travel up to 100 metres for food, and are food hoarders stashing supplies of food such as seeds and nuts.
You can control rodent populations by limiting the food and shelter available, and by following these steps:
- Stacking wood about 40 cm off the ground and away from sides of sheds and fences;
- Removing fruit and nuts from vines and trees at the end of the season, picking up rotten fruit from the ground and removing fruit from palm trees when in bloom;
- Keeping the backyard as clean and free of debris as possible;
- Maintaining rubbish and compost bins in good repair, with secure lids and free from holes;
- Keeping pet dishes clean and storing bulk pet food in closed containers; and
- Regularly removing garden waste from sheds and yards
Trapping and baiting are the most common ways of eliminating your unwanted guests. However, preventing them from breeding and harbouring around your property, would alleviate the need for baiting and trapping.
There are two types of rodent traps – the old-fashioned snap back trap and the more recent, capture-box style of trap. Different types of bait can be used including peanut butter, bacon, chocolate and nuts. Placement of the trap should be in the rodent’s pathway, but never above food or food preparation surfaces, to avoid contamination by rat urine, droppings or blood.
Baiting involves laying poison baits along rodent paths and in roof and wall cavities that are easily accessible. It is very important to ensure the bait isn’t accessible to children or pets. Some rodent baits have the potential to cause secondary poisoning.
Secondary poisoning can occur when a non-target animals i.e. pets, birds etc, eat a rat or mouse that has ingested the bait. Any carcasses must be wrapped and disposed of immediately in order to prevent secondary poisoning from occurring.