Coaxing neophobic rats to choose a bait isn’t easy under the best of circumstances but when rats have a ready supply of animal feed, it becomes even trickier.
To a rat’s way of thinking, why switch from a tasty grain diet to something new, especially if there are no adverse side effects
Yet, given a viable choice, rats will eventually try something new. And that’s where a clever pest controller can outsmart the cunning rat, as Marshall Blacklock in Queensland, Australia, discovered.
Marshall, owner of CDI Pest Management Pty Ltd in Toowoomba, Australia, was hired by a company that produced bulk animal feed for one of the largest meat-chicken growers in the southern hemisphere.
Located on the outskirts of a small rural town about 160 km southwest of Brisbane, the facility itself was ripe for a rodent infestation with rats and mice feeding on spilled product in the six-storey mill that produced both a pelleted and crushed mix chicken feed containing various grains and tallow. Other vulnerable structures included silos, storage sheds, a warehouse and grain dumps that created sump/pit types areas.
Compounding those conditions were nearby government-owned, bulk grain silos, grass paddocks and an abandoned railway line with loading platform.
When Marshall took over the account from another pest management company, he faced a high and persistent level of infestation from roof rats and a mouse problem that varied seasonally.
“The previous program was originally set up to meet audit requirements as opposed to gaining control of the situation,” Marshall said. The previous company used a bait that was not working and only about five snap traps.”
“Our initial approach was to replace all the bait with Bell’s DITRAC, clean and maintain the stations on a monthly basis, and triple the number of traps,” he recalled.
With bait consumption only minimally improved, Marshall eventually contacted his Bell representative, Ken Parry, to explore other options to treat this type of environment.
“When Marshall first asked me about this problem, he’d tried every available toxic bait on the market without success,” said Parry who has been serving the Australian market for Bell since 2009.
He recommended a stepping stone approach by introducing non-toxic DETEX first and then CONTRAC BLOX.
“I explained in detail the use of DETEX as an initial attractant and how it can be interchanged with our other baits. Rats will go from DETEX to our other baits without the normal neophobic behavior,” Parry said, noting that non-toxic DETEX BLOX contains no active ingredient and no bittering agent, just pure food ingredients.
Parry also recommended switching from DITRAC with brodifacoum to Bell’s CONTRAC with bromadiolone which is more appealing to rats in hard-to-feed situations.
“The method for Marshall was to get the rats feeding on DETEX, then swap it with CONTRAC.” Parry pointed out.
Adopting Parry’s plan, Marshall conducted a night survey to establish rodent movement and “hot spots.” From those results, he carried out more targeted baiting of the identified areas by using CONTRAC Bait on wires and in bait stations. He also repositioned snap traps onto runways for greater effect.
Since Parry also advised more frequent servicing, Marshall upped service to weekly checks which produced larger kills but bait consumption overall was still low.
Following Ken’s advice, Marshall initially used two DETEX BLOX with one CONTRAC BLOX in-between on approximately 20 wires which he positioned either on runways or close to harbourage areas.
The first week he saw approximately 50 percent of the DETEX eaten with very little change in CONTRAC consumption. The second week nearly all the DETEX had been consumed, along with an increase in CONTRAC consumption. The third week, he put two blocks of CONTRAC with a block of DETEX in-between.
“This produced an increase in bait consumption and between 12 to 16 dead rats per week, four times greater than what was previously achieved.” Marshall reported.
The number of dead rats remained at a dozen or so per week during the next several service cycles, but, by week six, it had dropped to about four rats per week. Most were found on floors or out in the open mill area.
“Employees commented on the lack of sightings and dropping around the facility, and the client was extremely happy with the results from the new baiting program,” Marshall noted.
“From the time we started using DETEX and CONTRAC in a targeted program, it took approximately four months to gain control.
As a newcomer to DETEX, Blacklock was a little skeptical in the beginning, but now he’s sold on it.
“This approach proved to be most effective and we would highly recommend the use of DETEX in this type of situation,” he said.
Marshall also likes the fluorescent tracker in DETEX which turned up some unexpected findings when he used a black light to observe the fluorescent markings.
“This allowed further identification of hot spots and territories as we found that the population on one side of the mill was not crossing to the other,” he observed.
Once rats were under control, Marshall set up a maintenance program that continued what he has in place to keep rat population in check. Then he
found he still had a problem with mice in one area. To correct it, he changed ground level bait to DITRAC to target mice.
“With DITRAC, Marshall quickly got on top of the mouse problem,” Parry noted.
With internal rodent populations under control, Marshall as part of maintenance, shifted his focus to preventing external rodent population from gaining entry into the facility. He cleared the grass around the mill which got an immediate drop in activity.
Marshall, who went into business for himself in 2005 after working for a large pest franchise, feels he offers a more responsive and more personal service within the pest management industry. The feed mill is one example of his specialized service.
“CDI stands for Commercial, Domestic, and Industrial Pest Management. We aim to achieve a cost- effective service solution to all our clients by providing a range of quality service, pest program designed individually to customer specifications and documentation to meet HACCAP and AQIS requirements,” he pointed out.
With headquarters in Toowoomba, he services all South East Queensland, in particular Brisbane, Toowoomba and Roma areas.
In addition to providing services that meet his clients’ individual requirements, Marshall has a strong partner in Bell.
“I was absolutely delighted to see the enthusiasm and satisfaction (and surprise) from Marshall on the success he had using DETEX with CONTRAC for rats and later DITRAC for mice,” said Parry. “This site is now considered manageable with only very small amounts of normal activity reported.”
Marshall, too, feels the benefits of a close working relationship with Bell.
“Since 2005, CDI Pest Management have continually used Bell products as they have proven time and time again that the quality of the product gives results that make all the difference to the client,” Marshall added.