Controlling Roof Rats With Science

On a recent Sprague Pest Solutions Spotlight webinar Sprague’s Jeff Weier and world-renowned rodentologist Dr. Bobby Corrigan shared their insights on how science and technology are coming together to manage roof rats.

It is known that roof rats prefer to live in the ‘shadows’ in and around commercial facilities. The ceiling voids, rafters, structural beams, corners, crevices and attics inside warehouses, factories, food processing, agriculture, and other facilities is where the cautious and secretive roof rat thrives.

“Roof rat management programs need to be as unique as the rodent you’re squaring off against,’ said Jeff Weier, the long-time technical director for Sprague who now serves as a consultant to the company. “Roof rats require more time and a precise approach.”

How is Sprague pivoting to meet the challenge? Weier said science-based decision making and the deployment of technology are at the forefront of roof rat management.

The strategic placement of cameras and remote monitoring devices in facilities to observe rodent behavior has altered how Sprague approaches roof rat management.

Weier said roof rats engaged with the cameras but would avoid the control devices as if they knew why they were there. It is a complex response.

The cameras also revealed roof rats frequently travel along vertical pathways, not just horizontal ones. This makes looking at a facility in 3D essential to achieving control.

“You can’t simply look straight ahead or side to side but in all directions up and down inside a facility,” said Weier. “You have to identify their pathways and determine their travel routes to identify the true root cause of the problem.”

Weier said a clean pipe or I-beam inside a structure is a sign of a roof rat pathway and that they are moving freely through the area.

“Roof rats often know buildings better than the architect who designed them,” remarked Weier. “The videos showed they’ll avoid traveling over a false ceiling but rather use pipes and wires as a runway to move around.”

The Scientific Placement of Control Devices

A roof rat management program is only effective when control devices are used properly. The days of using ‘formula’ solutions for placing devices every so many feet are a practice whose time has passed by.

The use of cameras and remote monitoring devices allows Sprague to scientifically place control devices where they are most effective  – where roof rats are traveling.

Weier said the neophobic nature of roof rats means they must be trained to engage with control devices.

“Initially your pest management service provider may have to leave the traps unset or use their preferred foods to attract them,” said Weier. “And you must be patient since it will take time to make the necessary modification to their behavior and get them comfortable.”

A variety of device types might need to be deployed because if roof rats have a bad experience with one, they’ll remember it. Research has shown that members of a rodent colony communicate effectively with one another on what pathways to travel, what to avoid and what to eat.

“There should be a reason for every device placement in your facility,” said Weier.

Quick Summary

  • No activity in devices doesn’t mean there are no rodents. Don’t rely on devices solely – inspections are important.
  • Rodent infestations require more than routine placement and checking of devices.
  • Tape measure rodent management will not yield the results needed to successfully pass audits and prevent rodent issues. Science-based reasoning backed up with technology will.

For more information on how Sprague Pest Solutions can design an effective roof rat management program for your facility, call 855.805.0755.

Rodents: Rats & Mice