Rat Control for Docks

I’ve decided to share some of my stories on our Blog. I’ll start with the following true story.

A Rat Problem

I took a phone call from a person who was a previous customer years before who happened to live in the Admirals Cove neighborhood in Jupiter Florida. I’ll call this customer Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith and her husband had moved from one location in Admirals Cove to another location in Admirals Cove where they built a new home. They decided to use the pest control company that the builder used to do their preconstruction soil treatment. I mention this because Mr. and Mrs. Smith did not leave Bates Exterminating for any particular reason and our relationship was solid. Therefore, when the current company failed to correctly address a new rodent problem, Mrs. Smith was kind enough to call me and give me the opportunity to help her out. I was able to set an appointment with her immediately which is not uncommon for Bates Exterminating so, I drove directly to her new home. I say new, it is about a year old.

Mrs. Smith met me at the front door and stated she heard something in the attic at night, once or twice. As is the correct thing to do, I insisted on doing an inspection of that attic. As it turned out, there were three attic entrances because it was a very large home and somewhat complicated.

I discovered rodent droppings in only one of the attics. As it turned out, that was the hardest one to crawl. It is also the attic the other pest control company did not inspect. Fortunately, the rodents had not begun to chew on the electrical wires for their alarm system or gnaw into their air conditioning ducts of their air conditioner system. Both are common occurrences with rodents. A thorough inspection of the rest of the house did not turn up anything in regards to rodents. So, as it is my custom, I took my inspection outdoors and discovered many places in the landscaping where rodents could harbor. I also discovered an entry point where the tubing from the air conditioning unit enters the home through the soffit of the roof. The roof had several pitches in it that ran into each other so, I used an extension ladder to get up onto the roof to do a closer inspection. Where one roof angle meets another, there are gaps left by the contractor that give easy access for rodents to get into attic areas. In this case there were no such flaws in the construction, so the multiple angels of the roof posed no breaches the rodents could take advantage of.

Rodent Problems

Thus far in my inspection, I was coming to the conclusion that her rodent problem was not that serious. However, before I made that call, I thoroughly inspected her dock and boat, or yacht, which was attached to her dock. My thinking did an abrupt 180 degree turn when I causally opened the dock box to inspect it and two rats jumped out and almost sent me swimming in the intercostal waterway.

Where did the rats come from?

Now, up until this point, Mrs. Smith had been pretty casual, almost nonchalant about the rodent issue. She had been standing in her yard watching me inspect her dock box so she saw the rats jump out. Now, she no longer maintained her nonchalant attitude but hysterically began describing the rat that had walked along her sliding door. Up to now, she neglected to tell me this. She also informed me that her husband had mentioned to both her and the previous exterminator that there were rats on his boat, which he believed he brought back from a trip to the Bahamas. Well, they did not come from the Bahamas. They came from the waterways in the waterfront neighborhood they live in, as is common in south Florida. These rats turned out to be the black rat, or also called the roof rat; “Rattus rattus” is the Latin name.

The South Florida “Roof Rat” (Rattus rattus)

The roof rat is not always associated with waterways. The Norway or “Wharf rat” usually is. However, in Florida those rules do not apply. The roof rat is identified by its large ears, pointed nose, sleek body and long tail, whereas the Norway rat, or Rattus Norvegicus, has small ears, a blunt nose, a very heavy body and a short thick tail. Although the Norway rat is also known as the burrowing rat because of their habit of digging burrows in the ground to rear their young, the black rat, or roof rat, also burrows along waterways. Both rats can swim. The Norway rat is considered an excellent swimmer and is commonly found around docks, boats and waterways as his nickname would imply “the wharf rat.”

At any rate, once Mrs. Smith finally calmed down to have a normal conversation with me, I was able to discover the other pest control company who had serviced her home had done little, or nothing, when it came to professional rodent control. Essentially, they had used a few snap traps and a few glue boards in a vain attempt to control a large rodent population in her home, her dock and her yacht. With that said, it is very well documented that rodents will travel in excess of 150’ from where they are harboring to where they are feeding. It’s never a bad idea to check with your neighbors to see if they have had a rodent problem since their home is probably within 150’ of yours.

How do you get rid of water rats?

Unfortunately, using snap traps and glue boards is a common error repeated by many pest control operators. You see, black rats, roof rats and Norway rats have a mental condition known as neophobia. Not unlike humans, rats don’t like new things.

The status quo is what they are comfortable with. Simply put, if a rat sees something new in their environment, their immediate response is to be suspect of it. How suspect? Very suspect! The phrase neophobia means extreme fear of new things and before you think that’s weird, let me suggest that humans do the same thing. In fact, it’s that very condition of thought that keeps rats and humans safe in their environment. Most humans are cautious when going to a new town, city or neighborhood that they have never been. Likewise, most humans are suspicious of people or things which they can’t identify or do not belong in their environment. Rats are pretty smart that way too, especially the older rats that are wiser and typically are the ones reproducing. After all, they can’t be too stupid if they’re the ones with all the food and all the females. No so for the adolescent human or rat. And if you’re a parent, you should be chuckling right now.

So, here’s the real problem with snap traps and glue boards. If they catch anything, it’s going to be a young or adolescent rodent who is not propagating or building the colony. In fact the mature adult rodent who witnesses a younger and not so wise rodent stuck in a glue board or snap trap becomes convinced beyond any doubt that both the snap trap and glue boards in fact were not to be trusted. The fully mature and breading rodent will now avoid snap traps at all cost. The only thing that the pest control technician achieved by using snap traps and glue boards was to remove young and non-productive rodents while at the same time causing the more prorogating rodents to become bait and trap shy. This makes all rodent control in the future more difficult and perpetuates the rodent program substantially.

All of this I explained to Mrs. Smith and quite frankly, it did not take much convincing. The rats did that for me.

Rat Baiting

The rest of the story is pretty predictable. Bates Exterminating used a highly effective baiting system that encompassed the boat, the dock, the seawall, landscape and the attic areas of Mrs. Smith’s home. Because the bait is a one-time feeding bait, Mrs. Smith’s rats did not have time to make the connection between the fact they were eating the bait and then not feeling so well. Instead, they just died. Within about ten days, Mrs. Smith’s home and all of her property was rodent free and Bates Exterminating continued to maintain a perimeter baiting system around Mrs. Smith’s home.

Let me note a common misconception. When it comes to professional baiting systems, it is an erroneous belief by some that if you use bait to kill rats, they will die in your walls. That’s simply not true. What is true is that the one-time feeding bait causes them to bleed to death internally which in turn causes them to be extremely thirsty. There is no water in your walls or attic unless you have another major problem, which we are not going to discuss at this time. Not only is that an untrue concept, but the opposite is actually true. You see, rodents caught in glue boards will often chew their legs off thereby mortally wounding themselves and ending up in inaccessible areas of your attic or walls which do not have water. Likewise, it is well documented that snap traps merely wound a lot of rats causing them to wonder off into inaccessible areas of your home with or without the bait trap attached.

Simply put, if snap traps and glue boards actually worked, you would not need a professional exterminator as they are available at any hardware store or Home Depot and anyone can use them almost for free. There is a reason someone is always trying to make a better mouse trap! They don’t work!!

Free Rodent Control Inspection

This true story about Mrs. Smith, her rodent problem and how it was dealt with by two different companies is actually very common. What we can take away from this story is that first and foremost, a thorough inspection must be done to determine what needs to be done in regards to rodent control. For example, does your landscaping need to be altered to prevent rodents from easy access to your home or are there large numbers of harboring places for them to harbor near your home? A thorough inspection determines whether or not rodent exclusion techniques are going to be required. For example; sealing up vents, closing up holes in the soffits, or using steel wool to close holes around air conditioning or electrical entry points.

Rodent Exclusion

NOTE: Rodent exclusion should only be done after you know all of the rodents are dead and gone so as not to trap them in the home. A thorough inspection will determine where the rats are coming from, in this case, the waterway, the boat and the dock boxes. If you do not address the source of the rodent infestation, you will have repetitive problems with rodent control, no matter what method you employ.

If you would like a free inspection, call Bates Exterminating at 800-774-2651 and we will come out and inspect your home for free for rodent control.

As I stated in the beginning of this story, Mrs. Smith had been a previous customer of Bates Exterminating. The peace of mind that Bates Exterminating provided Mrs. Smith in the past is what prompted Mrs. Smith to use Bates Exterminating again. As a family business, we have always placed the emphasis of our service with building relationships with our customers. Based on the trust that Mrs. Smith had in Bates Exterminating, she also switched all of her services back to us. Those services included taking over her termite bond, which was a big issue for Mrs. Smith in her new home. Mrs. Smith was pleasantly surprised that we were able to take over her termite bond from another company. Since rodent control is done on a monthly basis, it made sense for her to switch her GHP back to us also. For those of you who are not familiar with the work “GHP,” it means pest control for the home including ants, roaches and spiders. We also began doing her lawn and ornamental services which includes scale insects on the shrubs and trees, as well as chinch bugs, grubs and fungus diseases for the turf. Mrs. Smith included our comprehensive fertilizer program, a service we provide for for all her tree, shrub and turf care.

Bates Exterminating’s focus of providing peace of mind through superior service and nearly instant response, has served us and the public well for the last 40 years.

You too can be a Bates Exterminating customer. Call Bates Exterminating 800-774-2651.

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