Some residents are experiencing some very unwanted guests in their homes following Hurricane Ivan – rats!
For one local resident watching a dead rat fall from a hole in her kitchen ceiling down onto the kitchen floor is an experience she does not want to relive.
The lady had first heard scuttling in her roof about a month after the hurricane. She then started to smell faeces and alerted her landlord who had traps laid in the roof to kill the rodents. It was a rat in a trap that fell through the ceiling, and another dead rat has been caught in a bedroom. The rats have still not all been killed.
Explains Mr. Steve Smith of Truly Nolen Pest Control, ‘Rodents can get into a house through any opening: if a roof blew off and if the hurricane blew out the vents in the eaves. Many rodents were displaced during the hurricane and they are looking for food and water so make sure your house is secure if you want to avoid getting any.’
Mr. Smith said his company has killed a lot of rodents since the storm, including some in people’s rooftops.
If they are not eradicated from a house when the first signs appear they can multiply and be very destructive, chewing furniture and wires, he said.
Two methods of killing rodents are generally used: the laying of bait to poison them, or glue traps which stop them in their tracks.
‘The problem with bait is that they can die in an area you can’t get to, and then you’ve a dead rat problem,’ he said.
Depending on the population of rats involved, it can take from three days to a week to get rid of a rodent problem professionally.
Guidelines from the Department of Environmental Health state that various conditions can lead to rodent problems including: careless disposal of garbage and dumping of refuse, open discharge of kitchen wastewater, derelict vehicles, overgrown vegetation, dilapidated buildings and discarded pet food left outside.
Signs of rodent infestation include: droppings, gnawing, urine odour, rub marks along walls, burrows in ground and sightings.
In order to rodent-proof your home you should have tight fitting doors, use metal collars around coconut and fruit tree trunks, repair all holes in floors and walls and remove overhanging branches within close proximity to your home.
DoEH facts state that one healthy pair of rats can produce 15,000 offspring in one year. Rats can carry diseases such as plague, leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonellosis, rat-bite fever and many more.
Report any rodent signs in your area to the Department of Environmental Health.