Garden centres are prime locations for rats and mice to make their homes. David Cross, the head of technical training academy at Rentokil Pest Control, gives Garden Trade Specialist some advice on keeping rodents at bay…
Rats and mice are likely to come in from the cold in search of warm, dry harbourages and new food sources. A retail outlet can provide plenty of places for rodents to hide as well as numerous food sources and, as mice are capable of squeezing through tiny gaps just the width of a biro pen, it can be tricky to keep them out.
A mouse only needs three grams of food per day, so simple measures like ensuring that waste food isn’t left on the shop floor overnight and making sure that all waste is sealed and disposed of properly can make a big difference. Additionally, sealing any obvious exterior holes with wire wool, caulk, metal kick plates or cement will help exclude rodents from entering your business.
Retailers should constantly be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of a rodent problem. These include:
Smell and sound: Rats and mice have a very strong ammonia smell. On top of this, rodents are often very noisy – making audible scrabbling noises as they moved around premises.
- Droppings: Rats excrete about 40 dark, pellet-shaped droppings per day, which are up to 14mm long. Mice can produce 80 oval shaped droppings, that are typically 5mm long.
- Smears: Rodents use established routes along skirting boards and walls due to their poor eyesight. You may notice grease marks where rodents brush up against your walls and surfaces.
- Footprints: Rats can leave foot and tail marks in dusty, less-used areas of your premises. Shining a strong torch at a low angle should reveal tracks clearly. To establish if an infestation is active, sprinkle fine flour or talc along a small stretch of floor near the footprints and check for fresh tracks the next day.
- Damage: Rodents can chew through electric cables, which is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of an infestation as it causes a fire hazard, while also being very difficult to spot. Gnaw marks, shredded paper and damage to food storage containers are also common signs of rodent activity.
You might not think that one mouse sighting warrants immediate attention, but a problem can quickly escalate into something more serious if left untreated. Mice typically like to stay hidden out of sight as it helps them feel safe, so seeing just one mouse could still be an indication of a larger problem. They also have a relatively quick reproduction cycle, so failing to act could create the conditions for an isolated issue to turn into a full infestation. This not only poses a risk to health and safety, but also other assets within your business. Mice are hard-wired to gnaw to help keep their teeth at a manageable size, so they chew on just about anything they can sink their teeth into. This could result in damaged stock or electrical equipment and an increased fire risk.
Prevention is definitely better than a cure when it comes to rodents, so a proactive pest management strategy is vital to your business’s reputation and safety.
For more information on keeping your business premises pest-free, visit rentokil.co.uk or call 0808 278 8192.