During my routine servicing of one of my commercial accounts in Long Branch, NJ, I was inspecting the garbage corral for sanitation deficiencies. Often, potential problem areas outside of a building are overlooked, even though they can be major attractants for insects, rodents, or wildlife. There is a saying, “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.” This holds especially true for pests, especially when garbage contains food debris. The owner did not report any pest problems around the building, so I was not expecting to find anything. To my surprise, I observed several rat burrows inside one of the fenced-in corrals. Rats create these underground pathways to travel sight unseen from their nest to food sources. They usually contain a main entrance and one or two exit holes away from the main entrance.
The two rats species most often encountered in New Jersey are roof rats (black rats), which as their name implies, are arboreal and often infest elevated areas of the home like attics, rafters, and eaves. Norway rats, on the other hand, are terrestrial, and commonly form burrows such as the one seen here. Both types of rats carry diseases that can spread to humans through bites, scratches, food contamination, and just through their waste. Particles of droppings and urine can become airborne when they dry. Breathing in these particles can trigger serious respiratory infections.
Rats are called “commensal” rodents because they thrive in human environments. Living around us and our habitats, they enjoy everything they need to survive and thrive — an unlimited plenty of food, water, and harborage. This business’s garbage corral provided these rats with everything they could ask for! Also, rats are also extremely intelligent. They have excellent memories and have a fear of new objects placed in their environment, making them difficult to trap.
My plan was to eliminate, or at least substantially reduce, as many of these outdoor rodent attractants as possible. The more inhospitable the environment, the higher the likelihood they will forage elsewhere. I spoke with management about the problem. Needless to say, they were very concerned. Just saying the word “rats” is more than enough for most people to take immediate action. They agreed to regularly inspect the dumpster area, keep the area clean, and eliminate anything that could give the rodents harborage.
I dusted the rodent burrows with a residual tracking powder that is ingested when they groom themselves, and also secured a rodent bait box adjacent to the burrows. Finally, I scheduled a follow-up in a week to re-inspect the area and see if there were still signs of active rodent activity. This includes monitoring the bait boxes and inspecting the burrows to see if there are signs of activity. It’s also important to make sure that management is keeping up with the area. As long as rodent attractants remain, there will continue to be problems. Businesses must establish and implement proper sanitation and hygiene protocols for their staff to follow, both inside and outside of the building.