Rodents on the rise can ruin your reputation

    

It’s starting to get cold. Really cold. And that means my exposure to the outdoors is limited to the scurry between my front door and my car. We all turn to the indoors when it gets cold and we’re not the only ones: rats and mice do the same thing. In fact, since the end of summer we’ve seen an 18% rise nationally in the number of commercial call outs we’ve had for rodents.

It seems that these little guys and I share another cold-avoidance strategy. I was swapping stories with one of our technicians last week when he was telling me about a restaurant (whose name and location will remain anonymous) where he had spent every day for the last 2 weeks on site treating a major rodent problem.

There’s a reason why I won’t even hint where this restaurant might be. For businesses, reputation is everything. It can take years to build a positive reputation in the community but this can all change in several seconds via social media. Just one customer complaint could spiral into major customer backlash and significant financial consequences for any business. Rodents are a major reputational risk.

My technical buddy Simon Lean said rats and mice are most prevalent in the colder months because they seek refuge indoors, looking for both shelter and food.

“A rodent infestation can quickly get out of control, within a period of a year a single pair of mating rodents can result in a rodent population of 400-700. Female rodents are capable of giving birth to between five to 10 offspring more than four times a year and that offspring is ready to reproduce just three months after birth,” Simon said.

The most common pest rodent species in Australia are the black rat, brown rat (Norway rat), and house mouse, all of which are widespread throughout Australia’s highest populated areas.

Rodents are nocturnal and build their nests in wall cavities, under floors, roof voids and close to areas where they can scavenge for food and water. They can all carry diseases by leaving infected urine or faeces in places where people can come in contact such as kitchen benches, food preparation and storage areas and rubbish tips. The effect of rodents can consequently be more serious for businesses serving or selling food and businesses with large storage areas, where rodents can find areas with food, shelter and nesting sites during winter.

We also have some research that indicates mice can change behaviour in environments such as large buildings. Typically the home range of a mouse is 5 metres however, our technicians observed that when there is lack of females in these environments male mice are forced to hunt up to 1km to find mating partners. Large buildings work as closed ecosystems with adequate food, shelter and warmth; they enable mice to set up temporary residences throughout. For large buildings this means there is an increased risk of mice infestation that is harder to treat and control.

Our business survey process involves a review of the site to identify areas of risk, consideration of all control procedures including attention to sanitation and hygiene, trapping, proofing of entry points, and the use of baiting procedures. We also offer a Critical Appraisal for high risk industries like food processing and pharmaceutical goes one step further with a scientific approach completed by a field biologist.

The best way to avoid a rodent-related reputational problem is to give us a call: 1300 805 087.

REPUGNANT RODENT FACTS AND INFORMATION

Danger signs

  • Droppings – rodents leave small, dark droppings particularly along walls or in enclosed areas such as cupboards or under sinks. Rat droppings are sausage shaped, approximately 1 -2 cm long and mouse droppings are thin, spindle shaped and approximately 5mm long
  • Distinctive smell – if you detect an ammonia-like smell that is particularly strong in more enclosed areas, the chances are it may be due to rodents
  • Damaged stock and damage to fabric of premises
  • Nesting material — rodents build nests with shredded material such as newspaper, cardboard and fabrics
  • Damage – rodents have teeth that grow continuously and will gnaw on wood, plastic, cables and other hard materials which can be a fire hazard
  • Smears – grease marks from the rodents body as they repeatedly brush up against objects

Potential harm

  • Rodents are known to spread infections such as Salmonella, Weil’s disease, E.coli, Tuberculosis and Hantavirus
  • Damage to stock and buildings
  • Contamination of foodstuffs and goods

Business consequences

  • Alarm — immediate loss of customer and employee trust which will affect the bottom line
  • Damage — to goods, foodstuffs and your health and hygiene reputation
  • Cost — can be considerable, temporary closure may be necessary which means loss of business and the costs of replacing damaged stock
  • Legal — failure to comply with legislation

Preventative measures

  • Hygiene and housekeeping should be a key focus with thorough, regular cleaning taking place frequently to avoiding infestation
  • Crates and boxes should be stacked 70cm away from the wall to ensure you can check what’s behind them
  • Set up a contractual relationship with your pest controller, rather than hiring them on a reactive basis to ensure there is no risk of recurring infestations
  • Staff need to be educated on the risks of infestation and act responsibly
Australia's Most Venomous Species
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