Rodent infestations mostly follow human activity, and Cayman’s experience is no different. Where people carelessly dispose of garbage and practice illegal dumping, there will soon be evidence of rodent infestation.
Contributing to the problem are kitchen wastewater spillage, vegetation overgrowth, derelict vehicles, discarded appliances, yard debris, dilapidated buildings and pet food left outside.
‘There is much that the homeowner can do to prevent rodent infestation’, says DEH District Health Officer Sydney Moore.
By practicing good sanitation, residents almost eliminate the problem; property owners, for example, can keep grounds clean, store garbage in properly covered containers, and take old appliances and discarded vehicles to the landfill.
Further, homeowners can rodent-proof homes by ensuring that doors fit tightly. They can use metal collars around coconut and fruit-tree trunks and remove branches that overhang roofs. They should also repair floor and wall holes.
Rodents are prolific breeders; one pair of healthy rats can produce some 15,000 offspring in one year alone. Rodents also carry diseases such as leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonellosis, rat-bite fever and others.
In addition, rodents are destructive. They can cut through screens, doors and floors and by gnawing electrical wires, they can cause fires. Once inside your home, they will also eat and contaminate food items.
However, since they are both agile and adaptive creatures, it can be difficult to prevent rodent infestation. They jump some two feet vertically and can walk along electrical wires. Rodents can also survive falls of 50 feet, can swim several miles and crawl through holes just one-half inch in diameter.
In Cayman, the most common rodents are the brown and roof rats and the house mouse. Easily identified by their colouring, the brown rat has a white abdomen, while the roof rat is blackish-grey, also with a white abdomen. The coat of the house mouse is brownish-grey.
Signs of infestation include droppings and urine odours; gnaw marks; scuffing, rubbing or smears along walls and burrows or pathways at ground level.
Anyone suspecting rodents on their property should call DEH staff on 949-6696 or the DEH complaints officer on 244-4145 in Grand Cayman.
Residents in Cayman Brac should call the DEH office at 948-2321 to make a report. The DEH staff will apply rodenticide (rat poison) as necessary.