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ConeStop: Stopping rats and mice in their tracks

A new innovative pest management solution from Rentokil builds on an old idea but addresses an important gap in protecting businesses from rodents. Rats and mice are agile climbers and intelligent enough to find any kind of structural weakness to gain access into buildings when looking for shelter and food. Their agility has caused problems for centuries, from eating and contaminating large amounts of stored food to finding their way onto ships and spreading diseases that killed millions of people.

Although the threat of the plague has been reduced to occasional cases or small outbreaks,  rats and mice still cause significant losses to businesses handling food and are carriers of many other diseases that are a greater health threat in modern times.

Rentokil study collating data from 51,000 customer sites found up to 40% of businesses handling food reported pest incidents and 52% of these were caused by rodents.

Rodent control is an essential component of food safety practices, and a legal requirement, therefore businesses need to implement effective measures to comply with the legislation and prevent financial and reputational loss. Rentokil innovations such as the PestConnect system are helping customers control pests on the ground in ever-more effective ways.

3D rodent highways

Modern buildings and even ships provide complex three-dimensional highways for rodents to run along to seek food and find places for shelter. Electricity and communications cables, pipes and ducting provide ready-made routes for rodents to get around buildings.

Rats and mice also need to gnaw constantly to wear down their teeth, which don’t stop growing. Soft materials such as the plastic covering of electric cables are perfect material for their gnawing, but when they reach the copper inside, the exposed wires can short, resulting in fires. Preventing rodents from accessing cables therefore, plays an important role in fire safety measures.

Old cone-cept for preventing rats

The idea of using a disc or cone-shaped object to stop rats and mice from accessing food stored in buildings is not new. In fact, it dates back hundreds of years: mushroom-shaped stone posts, called staddle stones (or steddle stones) were used as foundations for granaries in England and Spain from at least the 18th century many of these buildings still survive.

Disc or cone-shaped rat guards have also been used on ships for many decades, to stop rats and mice running along mooring ropes into the ships. They were not widely used, however, until the early twentieth century.

After the bubonic plague was introduced into West Coast ports of the US, some of the ports introduced their own requirements for ships entering port. Though it wasn’t until 1951 that pest control on ships became a requirement under international law when the WHO introduced the International Sanitary Regulations that required ships to have Deratting Certificates.

ConeStop-ping rats and mice in their tracks

The ConeStop is an adaptable plastic cone that effectively blocks rats and mice from running along pipes and cables, preventing rodents from accessing and contaminating sensitive areas in business premises.

Rentokil adapted the simple rigid cone into a product that can easily be adapted to fit a wide variety of pipes, cables and even rectangular ducting. ConeStop is a circular piece of flat plastic with a V-shaped piece removed so that when the two edges are tied together, it forms a cone. It has flexible fingers in the centre that, when wrapped around pipes or cables, bend around the diameter leaving no gaps.

Successful rat barriers

Rentokil customers in multiple countries have tested ConeStop on their business premises. They reported that it successfully stopped rats from travelling along pipework and cables and that the cones were not gnawed at. ConeStop has now been granted two European Registered Community Designs; one for the full cone, used on suspended pipes, cables and posts, and the second for a half cone, designed for cables and pipes attached to flat surfaces.

Robert Shand, Pest Control Project Technologist at Rentokil’s Global Research and Development Centre said, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the customer trials. For such a simple design it will have a great impact on keeping both rats and mice contained and preventing them from accessing other parts of customer premises.”

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