It comes as no surprise to business owners that rodent activity is on the rise all along the West Coast, especially in California. The evidence of their presence in and around commercial properties can be all too clear.
This increased pressure presents a potentially serious threat to commercial facilities, especially those engaged in food processing, distribution or warehousing.
Clark Pest Control rodent specialist Richard Park, A.C.E., says Clark technicians and inspectors have observed increased rat populations in major metropolitan areas including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Long Beach.
How intense is the problem? Park says he came across a situation in a downtown area where garbage collectors had to close the windows of their trucks when emptying dumpsters for fear of a rat (or two) falling out and landing in their truck cab.
“The simple task of failing to secure a dumpster lid is an open invitation for rats and when you have multiple dumpsters in an alley, it can ramp up rodent pressure outside your back door in a hurry,” adds Park.
There are several factors driving the rodent population boom including:
- Rodents are being forced to find new sources of shelter and food due to wildfires destroying their natural habitats.
- Mild, wet winter weather allowed rodents to breed longer and reproduce in greater numbers, and feed on robust vegetation whose growth was spurred by the wet conditions.
- Commercial property managers and owners not recognizing or reacting quickly enough to physical and cultural conditions conducive to rodents.
- Increased homelessness in crowded urban areas leads to more rodent/human encounters as rodents take advantage of easily accessible sources of food, water and shelter.
The type of rodent commercial clients encounter depends on where you are in the Golden State. In Northern California, you will see more roof rats and house mice, and in Southern California Norway rats are more prevalent.
What can commercial clients do to stem the tide and keep from having rodent issues in and around their facilities?
Park says the first step, even if you just suspect you might have an issue, is to call Clark for a free rodent assessment for your facility. The assessment will include a thorough inspection of your facility, inside and out, and a report outlining any structural, cultural or procedural deficiencies that would allow rodents access.
“The assessment is done to help property and facility managers understand where the weak spots and deficiencies are within their structure,” says Park. “We want to educate them and have them to take proactive steps, if needed, to head off any rodent issues and avoid a poor or failed audit or having product shipments damaged or rejected by clients.”
Based on the assessment’s findings Clark will recommend treatment options that emphasize a comprehensive exclusion program. An exclusion program limits rodent access to a structure and can be a long-term solution to a rodent (or pest problem).
Rodents need very little space – the size of a quarter for rats and a dime for mice – to enter a facility so building a defensive perimeter is a worthwhile investment.
What Does Rodent Exclusion Look Like?
Rodent exclusion is your first line of defense and can be handled by your maintenance staff, your pest management service provider or a combination of both. If either party sees a condition that is conducive to rodents, it should be addressed ASAP.
Identify and seal gaps that give rodents an easy pathway inside. Look beyond the obvious areas – windows and loading dock and entry doors, and to vents, pipes, utility openings, cracks in the foundation and openings on the roof.
Sealing up your building will include the following:
- Repair or replace all torn or missing window and door screens.
- Replace old or missing weather stripping
- Install door sweeps to help create a barrier against rodents. They close gaps under entry and loading dock doors with thousands of dense nylon bristles.
- Use water-resistance sealant or adhesive to fill in cracks, crevices or gaps in your foundation that could give rodents a way inside.
- Repair or replace broken or missing vent covers with rodent-proof material.
“Commercial clients need to understand they are up against a determined, resourceful opponent in rodents,” says Park. “Preventing or eliminating a rodent infestation requires identifying the root cause of the threat, correcting it and above all being proactive to stop it in the first place.”
Five Ways to Prevent Rodent Infestations
- Have a free rodent assessment done for your facility
- Use exclusion as a first line of defense against rodents
- Stay on top of sanitation and cleaning protocols
- Carefully inspect incoming shipments for signs of rodents
- Stay on top of structural and landscape management practices
If you are looking for a pest management partner that understands your business, and can help you prepare your facility as pest pressures rise, give Clark Pest Control a call at (800) 936-3339.