I’ve worked for Rentokil Initial for just over four years now, I’ve helped build dozens of customer-facing websites and a couple of customer extranets; but never been out with a Rentokil Technician to see how the job is done on the ground.
So, I spent a day with Rentokil Technician Gary Huxtable as he visited old and new customers, both residential and commercial.
Our first stop was a gentleman who had recently restored an old farmhouse and upon moving in he’d realised the house was also home to many rodents!
This was Gary’s third visit, a month after his last, and we saw no signs of activity at all. None of the bait in the rat bait boxes in the kitchen or garden had been eaten, neither had the bait blocks under the upstairs floorboards. Gary said that by using rodenticide bait in several key areas, he’d been able to eliminate the customer’s rat problem in just two treatments; today was just a check-up and the customer’s property got a clean bill of health.
Our next stop was a pub which had signed a contract with Rentokil Pest Control only the day before.
Within half an hour of arriving I’d installed six external rat bait boxes myself (I’m quite handy with an electric drill) and Gary had placed the mouse bait boxes in the kitchen and cellar areas.
Gary told me that rats tend to invade a building from outside; venturing inside for food at first, then they move in only if the coast is clear.
Rats also tend to gorge themselves; so the fixed external bait stations, the bait and the holes are all larger, allowing them to chow-down on a suitably lethal dose.
Rentokil commercial rat bait comes in something resembling an ice cube tray, as if the blue rodenticide is poured into a mould and allowed to set.
It’s quite rubbery and alien – not at all appetising from a human point of view!
The rodenticide is blue as a warning that it contains anticoagulant. But it also contains Bitrex©, one of the most bitter substances known to humans, it has an unbearable bitter taste that repels curious children but doesn’t bother rodents in the slightest.
Gary also told me that mice tend to be more invasive than rats. Mice dart around very fast, using their small size to hide indoors. Mice are cautious, nervous eaters, a quick nibble here, a quick nibble there, always dashing around for fear of being picked off.
This means we must use more of the small, portable bait boxes to ensure the mice get the four nibbles of rodenticide required (on average) to kill them.
So, always deploy at least four bait boxes in relatively close proximity, out of the way, underneath or behind furniture and appliances or in quiet corners.
Rentokil commercial rodenticide for these tiny boxes comes as a blue paste in the same gun-style applicator they use for bathroom sealant. I thought Gary was doing some moon-lighting as a plumber when he first got it out of the van!
Our next visit was to a restaurant that had a suspected rat problem, another technician had caught and removed a Mummy rat and three baby rats last week using traps. This is often the only option once the rats have setup home and begun reproducing. Sometimes rats are smart enough to recognise the objects which trapped it’s family; so they avoid traps in the future. This results in us having to deploy other measures, such as stickyboards (fly-paper for rats).
Restaurant staff called Rentokil when they suspected that the Daddy rat still remained in the basement and he’d become confident enough to start exploring upstairs! We found evidence of a nest in a disused part of the basement. The rat nest appeared to be a tangle of ripped material, paper, fluff and various other soft, insulating materials… indispersed with rat poo. Lovely!
In the same room we also found ‘Rat Smear‘.
Sounds disgusting doesn’t it – smear is a bad enough word anyway, let alone when it’s coupled with the word rat.
‘Rat Smear‘ is a dirty, often greasy mark around a rat-hole which indicates regular use by one or more rats. It’s a clear sign of activity; the dirt and grease from their bellies and coat rubs off on walls and floors as they scuttle around.
However the hole and smear was at least 6ft above the ground! I was quite surprised that the rats had been climbing 6ft up a tiny water pipe just next to the hole. Hence the phrase “like a rat up a drain-pipe” – they are good climbers!
We deployed some traps baited with peanut butter, the rat-catcher’s secret weapon! Cheese is a myth! We also advised that they fix the leak which allowed rain water to seep into the basement and replace the broken drain cover; rats require a lot of drinking water and can easily crawl through pipes and drains!
Gary planned to return at a later date with some bait stations and to help the customer remove the nest and clean the basement professionally. This is very important because Weil’s Disease can be transmitted to humans via rat urine in water, soil or mud, and that basement was very wet and covered in rat faeces and urine! Grim!
I really enjoyed my day out with a Rentokil Technician, our staff’s expertise combined with their enthusiasm inspires a lot of confidence in our customers, who all seem very pleased to see us!
My experience seems pretty typical, many other office workers I’ve spoken to never saw any pests during days-out in the field. This is because Rentokil products and services are fast and effective to rid customers of pest problems. A lot of what we do is preventative and pro-active, we prefer to keep things at bay and manage risk, rather than let ‘problems’ turn into infestations!