Flood water displaces rodents

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Rainfall has become so extreme that flooding has become a big problem across many areas throughout Australia. The latest deluge of rainfall is further adding to the already significant rodent plague affecting businesses and homes across many parts of the country. 

Heavy rainfall has contributed to excessive grass seed production increasing rodent population densities (QLD, NSW mice plagues), as well as flooding forcing rodents from their burrows near water sources into built environments and closer to humans.

Rodent Movement

Heavy rains and flooding destroy rodents’ nests and although this may reduce the number of mice and rats, the surviving rodents relocate to new areas in search of food, water, and shelter. Rats are strong swimmers and can swim great distances in search of a new home. Rodents are incredibly resourceful and can use damaged pipework, plumbing, or cracks to enter properties. They may even use storm debris as a nesting place, so even if you don’t have rodents inside your property, the rising floodwaters and rainfall can push them closer to the perimeter.  

Breeding Machines

As they settle, they will reproduce and build their colonies in these new environments. Mice have a gestation of 19 to 21 days. They get pregnant about 5 to 10 times each year and can give birth to a litter of 3 to 14 pups! A female rat typically births six litters a year consisting of 5-10 rat pups. Rats reach sexual maturity after nine weeks, meaning that a population can swell from two rats to around 1,250 in one year, with the potential to grow exponentially without expert intervention.

Rodent-borne Diseases

There is a real concern that the latest plagues spreading across the country will have a health impact on businesses in affected areas. The current climatic conditions could precipitate outbreaks of rodent-borne infectious diseases such as Leptospirosis, Hantavirus-caused diseases, Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome, and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. 

Many of these rodents carry diseases that can be passed onto people even if there is no direct human-to-rodent contact. Rodent urine and droppings contain pathogens that transmit diseases such as Leptospirosis, Rat Bite Fever, and Salmonellosis. If a rodent has Salmonellosis, the droppings can be active with this for 148 days in normal conditions.

During flood conditions, rodents are more likely to spread disease. Vallian Moore, National Technical Manager at Rentokil warns: “Rats carry a particular health risk in flooded areas, as their urine contains leptospires which survive outside the rat’s body for much longer periods in extreme wet weather.”

The leptospires within the rats’ urine can cause Leptospirosis. Hantavirus is another pathogen that can be transmitted from rats and mice to people via food and water contaminated by rodent urine and excrement.

Rodents are also potential sources of allergens. Their droppings, skin shed, and hair can cause people to sneeze, itch and experience other allergic reactions.

Property and stock damage

Aside from the health implications, the constant gnawing of rodents can cause significant property damage. They can very quickly damage insulation, pipes, doors, and floorboards and they will also shred any soft materials they can find, so they can use them for nesting.

When rats eat through the packaging of foods, anything that’s leftover should be considered contaminated, and inedible. If you have a business that sells or handles food, a rodent infestation can have serious implications, not only financially but to your brand reputation too.  

What can you do if you have a rodent problem?

  • Store food in rodent-proof containers. If they can’t access food sources, they’re less likely to enter the building and will look elsewhere for food.
  • Keep bins as far away from entry points into the building as possible. If you’re limited for space, try to raise bins above floor level, making it harder for rats to access them.
  • After storms, clean away any debris that can provide protective cover for rodents as quickly as possible.
  • Rodents can fit through surprisingly small gaps so make sure you’ve sealed any areas around water pipes, utility line entry points, vents, and doors. They can chew through the foam so try to use metal or galvanised wire mesh.

Contact Rentokil – whether you have a rodent infestation in your home or business premises, we have several effective solutions. We are offering all distressed commercial properties at risk of these outbreaks, a free on-site assessment. Get in touch with the Experts today.

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Kathryn Birett

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