When I say rodent control, I am specifically referring to mouse and rat control in this case. Yesterday I talked with a prospective client. He told me he was dealing with a rat problem in an outdoor shed. He gave me some background about the situation. He mentioned there was a bag of grass seed that the rats chewed a hole into, and that they had fed on a significant portion of the grass seed through the winter. He told me he put out traps and caught 4 rats and also put out some bait. He felt unsure about whether he was tackling the problem correctly so he felt he needed to enlist the services of a professional. I told him that I believed he was doing everything right and that he was on the right track, that all he needed was a little knowledge about his situation and it would boost his confidence in what he was doing, and that I felt he was completely capable of handling the issue himself without needing a professional.
When dealing with a rodent infestation you have two control options. Those are baiting and trapping. (Ultrasonic emitters do not work!) The two techniques can be used alone or together. There is no perfect way to know how many rodents you are dealing with other than making a best educated guess about whether it is a light, medium or heavy level infestation. If you trap and catch all of the rodents, only then will you know the specific number that was involved. Traps are beneficial in that you are able to catch the rodent and then discard it. Challenges to trapping include the ongoing management of checking and resetting traps. Sometimes populations can regenerate faster than people are able to catch them and this can lead to frustration, which may give someone the feeling that they are not getting the problem under control. Rodents can also avoid/evade traps.
This brings us to baiting. There are a number of bait products available on the market. You will need to experiment with what works best. I have settled on a particular product that I achieve very good results with, but it is not available at your local store. Most all products available over the counter should work. The key to baiting is to eliminate competing food sources. In the case of the gentleman I mentioned here, I encouraged him to either remove or package the grass seed into hard plastic containers. In general, rats are smarter than mice. Rats are more cautious and are less willing to take risks with new items in the environment and this includes food sources.
The bottom line, I let this person know that he was doing everything right and didn’t need a professional. I told him he could keep trapping if he wanted to but that most importantly he should keep a constant supply of bait available to the rats, and that he could do this by putting the bait under the shed while checking and refreshing the supply of bait once or twice a year, or as needed based on how much activity there is. He was thoroughly pleased and felt completely confident that he was on the right track and could handle it himself.