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Being a highly urbanised city, it looks like rats have nowhere to go but our homes.
Over the years, rat infestations in Singapore have become a major problem for residences and businesses alike. They have wreaked havoc in our properties, contaminated food, damaged business reputations, and cost millions of dollars in repair and control.
Rodents flourish wherever resources are readily available—food, water, and shelter. Unfortunately, in urban environments like Singapore, poorly-managed establishments, waste centres, and refuse chutes easily provide sources of food for these pests and conducive conditions for them to breed and nest.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) is taking relentless actions in managing rat infestations by removing food sources and areas of harbourages, as well as penalising businesses that fail to keep their premises free of pests.
In the first half of 2016, the NEA detected some 20,000 rat burrows in the city. It is estimated that each burrow has as many as 30 rats, indicating a worsening rat problem. Sometime in 2017, the agency also took enforcement actions against businesses for failure to address a rat infestation.
The authorities are calling for community-wide efforts to keep their populations under control by establishing good housekeeping practices and engaging a pest control specialist to conduct regular pest control checks and treatment.
Rats are rodents that can be found anywhere across the world and survive in a wide range of climates and environmental conditions. They are usually found in and around homes, offices, and commercial establishments, in gardens, farms even open fields.
There are three primary species of rats present in Singapore: the brown rat (sewer rat), the black rat (roof rat), and the house mouse.
Brown Rat (Rattus Norvegicus) - Also called the common rat, street rat, or Norwegian rat, brown rats are highly adaptable and can be found in almost any habitat. They are omnivorous but have a particular preference for grains, seeds, and fruits.
Black Rat (Rattus Rattus) - Also called the ship rat, roof rat, or house rat, this long-tailed rodent is very similar in appearance to brown rats, but they are smaller, shorter, and have a more slender body.
House Mouse (Mus Musculus) - The smallest of the three, the house mouse is covered in short hair that is light brown to black. In the wild, they feed mainly on seeds, plants, and insects. However, in urban areas, they can easily have a diet similar to that of humans.
While they are both rodents, there are few key differences between rats and mice. For example, rats are generally larger. They have snouts that are blunter than that of the mouse and tails that are usually longer, hairless, and scaly.
Small ears, large feet, and thick, hairless tail
15-30g of food a day
5-10 pups per litter, 3-6 litters a year
Brown to black long droppings with blunt ends
Very careful and will avoid new things until they get used to them being there
Large ears and long, thin tail covered in hair
3g of food a day
4-16 pups per litter, 7-8 litters per year
Brown to black shorter droppings with pointed ends
Very curious and will investigate anything new
So, why does it matter to tell the difference between rats and mice?
Your residential pest control efforts will be most successful when you know what you are dealing with because what works to control rats does not necessarily work with mice.
For example, because rats are cautious, you will have to place unset traps in their path to give them time to get used to them and set it after a while.
On the other hand, you can do just the opposite for mice. You can set traps and put them right in their path. The only reason you would not catch a mouse in the first few days is probably that the trap is in the wrong location.
Rats are as pests mainly because of their ability to reproduce quickly. On average, a female rat gives birth to six litters a year, each consisting of about 5-12 pups. These pups reach sexual maturity in as little as nine weeks, meaning their numbers can easily balloon from two rats to more than a thousand in a year. Under favourable conditions, they have the potential to multiply exponentially, even as much as nearly half a billion in three years. Depending on the species, they can live for about a year or more.
All these go to show that we can easily be overwhelmed by rats if we do not do anything to disrupt their lifecycle. In addition, it is not the only reason why we should address a rat infestation—they can be quite destructive too and what is worse is that they carry parasites and diseases to both humans and animals.
Rats have oversized front teeth that are adapted for chewing almost anything, including glass, wood, wires, clothing, etc. Some risks include potential short circuit, fire hazards, and compromised structural integrity.
Aside from property damages, rats are also known to spread infections, including leptospirosis and hantavirus. They may also carry parasites and pests like fleas and ticks that are equally harmful on their own.
Below are some of the health risks associated with rats:
Murine Typhus (spread by the fleas in rats)
The best pest control specialist in Singapore knows that addressing a rat infestation involves getting rid of the fleas and ticks that may be in rats as well. Once the rat population is under control, the fleas have nowhere to go but to you and your pets, therefore it has to be a comprehensive approach.
In business establishments, the presence of rats may compromise food safety, pose a significant risk to public health, damage brand reputation, and worse, get you penalised for unsanitary practices. All of these can incur financial losses in addressing the infestation and marketing efforts to recover your name.
Rats are flexible and they can easily squeeze through a hole as small as ¾ inch in diameter. Therefore, it is easy for them to enter your home even through very small openings.
There are as many rats in Singapore, and while we may never be able to eradicate them fully, we can keep their population under control by depriving them of food, water, and shelter. You can start by storing your food properly by keeping them in airtight containers or in the fridge, managing your waste, covering drains and vents, and sealing cracks and holes.
It also pays to understand their behaviour, things that attracts them and how they are getting into your home in the first place.
It is established that rats in and around your home are not a good thing and that you do not want them indoors. What is attracting them there in the first place? Your unsanitary practises could even be to blame.
These illustrate the importance of doing household maintenance and explains why you should not procrastinate cleaning. Otherwise, you are creating opportunities for breeding, resulting in a rat infestation and the risks associated with it: food contamination, the spread of diseases, unsanitary environments, etc. Because rats are good at hiding, you will not often see them. They tend to leave signs of their presence and knowing what they are will allow you to take immediate and planned actions.
Rats are a serious problem. Unfortunately, it is likely that you will not see them until there is already a large infestation breeding in your home. They avoid predators with the use of familiar pathways and by hiding in out-of-reach areas such as false ceilings, burrows, and tight corners. Unlike mice, they do not just dart out into the open. Instead, they traverse in the corners and scurry along fences and walls. However, their elusive nature is not the only reason why rats are difficult to get rid of.
It is easier to prevent rat infestations than to remove them. Therefore, aside from dealing with an existing rat infestation, your focus should be keeping your home rat-free.
Many natural ingredients that are said to repel rats have a smell that rats hate. These include the following:
The problem with these natural repellents is that they merely drive away rats and do so little in getting rid of them. Therefore, your efforts in rat control should also involve steps to make your home as uninviting to them as possible and that takes removing their sources of food, water, and shelter.
In addition to these, pest control should also be part of your regular checks. It is necessary to engage professional help in monitoring any signs of rat activity in your property. At Rentokil Singapore, we offer a comprehensive rat control solution that involves inspection, eradication, monitoring and reporting.
In addition to our pest control service, we also designed a connected smart technology to control rats safely and effectively.
Rentokil PestConnect Service is an award-winning online connected system that provides 24/7 monitoring, rapid response, and protection against rodents. It uses traps, bait stations, and monitors, which when activated, sends an alert to our pest control specialists about a pest activity. They will also raise pest control recommendations, all of which you can find at myRentokil portal.
Rat control is necessary to avoid several health and safety risks associated with rat infestations. Given their ability to breed fast and survive in almost any environmental conditions, you can never fully get rid of rats. With regular pest inspections, you can keep their populations under control.
Get started today with pest control. Visit our website or contact us (65) 6347 8138 for more information.