The Department of Environmental Health is asking the public to be vigilant about keeping their properties rodent-free this summer.
Rodents are very prolific breeders and a healthy pair can produce roughly 15,000 offspring in one year.
More commonly referred to as rats, these pests can also carry diseases such as leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonellosois, rat bite fever and many others.
However, besides carrying diseases, rodents can destroy property by gnawing electrical wires, as well as cutting through screens, doors and floors.
Once inside your home or property, they can also eat and contaminate food items.
Because they are agile and adaptive, it can be difficult to prevent rodent infestation, as they have a vertical jump of about two feet and can walk along electrical wires.
Rats are also known to be able to survive falls of 50 feet and can swim several miles, in addition to crawling through one-half inch holes.
Signs of infestation are droppings and urine odours, gnaw marks, rub marks or smears along walls and burrows in the ground or runways.
The most common rats found in the Cayman Islands are the brown rat, the roof rat and the house mouse. They are often easily identified by their colours.
In addition to its brown coat, the brown rat has a white abdomen, while the roof rat is blackish-grey and also has a white abdomen. The house mouse is brownish-grey, with a brownish-grey abdomen.
Infestations increase when people carelessly dispose of their garbage.
Littering and dumping are also prime causes of infestations. These include tossing kitchen wastewater outside, overgrown vegetation, derelict vehicles and having discarded appliances and piles of debris in yards.
Other attractors for rats are dilapidated buildings and leaving pet food outside.
Residents can prevent these occurrences by practicing good sanitation, and property owners need to keep their premises clean in addition to storing garbage in covered containers until it is collected by the Department of Environmental Health.
Also, remove all old appliances, derelict vehicles and unused zinc and boards from your yard and demolish all dilapidated structures, taking care to properly dispose of debris.
Homeowners can rodent-proof their homes by ensuring that doors fit tightly, as well as using metal collars around coconut and fruit tree trunks. Repairing walls and removing all overhanging branches near your home will also help.
If you need assistance in controlling rodents around or in your home, DEH offers rodent control services upon request to all residents and institutions in the Cayman Islands.
When DEH rodent-control services arrive, it is important to cooperate by allowing them to apply rodenticide (rat poison).
DEH conducts intensive rodent control baiting once a year on all three Islands.
If you suspect that rats are on your property, please contact DEH staff at 949-6696 to file a complaint.