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Rodent 101- The first step to a successful rodent control program is the inspection process (1 of a 4 part series).

A successful rodent program is dependent on the implementation of the first critical step, “The Inspection”. Any quality PMP (Pest Management Professional) always takes their time when performing an inspection and does not cut corners. Your PMP needs to first listen to the questions and concerns of the customer to gain a clearer picture of the rodent problem at hand. Your PMP should ask some critical questions during this initial conversation, which include but are not limited to: How long have you noticed this rodent problem? What type of rodent evidence have you heard or seen? What part of the structure have you heard or seen this evidence in? Do you have pets or small children living with you? Have you had a PMP address this issue in the past? If so, what were their conclusions and/or treatment for the rodent problem? If there is adequate customer cooperation in answering these questions the PMP will gain a better understanding of the specific situation before ever starting the inspection.
The House Mouse, Norway Rat, Roof Rat, and Pack Rats are the 4 species of rodents that a homeowner will most likely encounter in the southwest region of the U.S. There are 10 tail-tail signs to a rodent infestation that the PMP should be looking for, which include:
1. Rodent Tracks- Rodent tracks can be seen in areas where there is a layer of dust or soft and moist soil. The foot pattern of the rodent track will easily give away various types of different rodent species.
2. Grease Marks- Rodents produce grease or rub marks from the oil and dirt that collects on their bodies. These marks can be seen on walls, entry/exit points, and on common rodent runways.
3. Burrows or Nests- These are clumps of nesting material that show a rodent harborage or breeding site. These burrows or nests usually contain material that is found around the house which is chewed up and clumped together. Identifying material that is used to make the nest can indicate which part of the structure the rodent frequents when it goes out to forage (i.e. attic insulation).
4. Urine Stains- These stains caused by rodents can look and smell very distinctive. These stains are easily spotted through the use of a black light. Under this light the stains will fluoresce and give away frequently used runways.
5. Fecal Pellets (droppings)- One of the most obvious signs of a rodent infestation is the presence of fecal pellets or droppings. During the night hours rodents are most active and defecate quite often. A competent PMP should be able to distinguish between the different shapes and sizes of droppings to identify which type of rodent is present.
6. Rodent Sounds- A PMP who performs a quiet and stealthy inspection can usually hear one or more of the sounds that rodents make such as: high pitched squeaks from young pups, digging, gnawing, scurrying, scratching, or the rustling from two rodents fighting.
7. Gnawing Damage- The presence of gnawing damage can be another sign that you have a rodent infestation. Rodents are constantly gnawing on things and your PMP should be able to tell what type of rodent your dealing with by the size and shape of the gnaw marks or the pattern and shape of the hole that was chewed into food packaging.
8. Runways- Rodents are creatures of habit and repeatedly use the same pathways to travel between food and nesting sites. Therefore these runways can be very distinctive and typically have a strong urine odor associated with them.
9. Rodent Odors- There is typically a very distinct smell associated with rodents especially in a moderate to large sized infestation. Rodents are very active creatures who defecate and urinate on a regularly and continuous basis. An experienced PMP has a good nose and will pick up on this odor immediately when they encounter it.
10. Live or Dead Rodents- The presence of dead rodents is a good sign that an infestation is present or was present at one time. Usually a PMP can tell by the decomposition of the rodent if it is an old infestation or a new one. Typically dead rodents caught in traps or poisoned will not deter the living population from the area or cause them to create an alternate runway around them. Because of this your PMP should continue their trapping and baiting on that same rodent pathway until no results are found.
A complete and thorough inspection by a qualified Pest Management Professional will yield a cost-effective, efficient, and successful rodent program for the customer. A careful and meticulous inspection of these 10 signs of a rodent infestation will enable the PMP to formulate a very effective game plan therefore maximizing their chance of a successful remediation and minimizing their chance of a long, drawn-out, and costly endeavor.

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