Protect Unoccupied Buildings from Smart, Hungry Rodents

Contributed by BSM Staff

MEMPHIS, TN -- Due to COVID-19 closures, employees and patrons may not have been in their businesses lately, but that doesn’t mean the space is unoccupied.

In May last year, the CDC warned about abnormal, increased and aggressive potential changes in the rodent population due to the COVID-19 shut down. Just like any other year, rodents, like rats and mice, that were displaced in the spring are still looking for food and warmth wherever they can.

A commercial customer in Alabama recently had a rat so determined that it chewed through concrete in order to gain access to the building.

“Rodents will travel as far as necessary to find food and water. As soon as they move, they have the ability to make decisions and form new communities.”

It’s clear rodents will do anything right now to gain access to food and warmth, which means business owners and managers should be aware of increased infestation potential, especially in their commercial buildings that are closed or operating in a limited capacity.

How can you protect your commercial business? Understanding these smart creatures is the first step in a long-term removal or prevention plan.

Terminix offers these tips and advice for business owners.
1. Protecting your business starts by understanding what kinds of rodents you may encounter this season. Identification is key.

According to Dan Baldwin, director of technical, training, and regulatory services at Terminix, there are many rodent species in the United States, with a lot of regional variance. “On the west coast, you may see more of the roof rat, where on the east coast, we see the Norway rat more often.” Dan says that knowing which rodent you’re up against will help determine the best way to prevent and eliminate infestations.

2. While identification is the first step, next you must understand how they operate.

“What makes rodents so interesting is also what makes them challenging,” says Dominique Sauvage, senior director of the technical team at Terminix. Sauvage warns that if you think you can outsmart rodents, that’s the first problem because they adapt so well to change. “Rodents will travel as far as necessary to find food and water. As soon as they move, they have the ability to make decisions and form new communities.” What business owners can do is contain the issues, reduce the risks and keep them out of buildings with the proper tools.

3. Commercial buildings tend to have more opportunities for infestations than residential homes because they may provide more access points and places to live and thrive. There are certain risks this year, because many stores and office buildings are empty with more people at home.

“The pandemic has introduced a new dynamic. The rodent environment is changing, and their behavior will change right along with it very quickly,” adds Sauvage.

Many issues can occur after an infestation, mostly concerning public health. Rats often carry pathogens that can cause disease. Rat droppings can also attract other pests and contain harmful organisms. In addition, many rodents are known to cause building damage by chewing on wires and chewing holes in the structure which can lead to costly and dangerous repairs for business owners large and small.

4. When it comes to removal, business owners need to once again remember how keen these pests are at decision making. Infestations can occur more than once a season if not properly and thoroughly removed.

“If you don’t take a holistic approach to removal, the results will be short lived,” says Baldwin. “You can’t just eliminate the pest that is there now, you must evaluate the circumstances of the rodent’s environment and find the answer to questions like: how they got in, where they went, and what they can potentially eat.”

This winter season, Terminix recommends that business owners reach out to their local Terminix Commercial service experts to create a holistic plan for rodent prevention, including disinfection services, elimination and exclusion.

“For Terminix, it’s about partnering with business owners and managers to make the solution successful and not just use a cookie-cutter approach,” adds Sauvage. “Terminix and our partner brands have the unique ability to respond to customer calls with effective, practical solutions in the short-term while providing solutions to keep businesses free from an infestation for the long-term, whether they are operating at capacity or not.”

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