Two findings from Ecolab scientists that have significant impact on rodent control success:
- The behavioral differences between a rodent’s first venture into a new environment and once they become established, and
- The “force field” impact of rodent whiskers (or vibrissae) that play an important role in their movement and search behaviors. When a rodent enters into a new environment, its first instinct will be to find a place to hide from which it can scope out its new surroundings. Additionally, while it is often said that rodents have poor vision, this is true only in relation to human eyesight in the light. They actually have an impressive ability to see contrast and shadows in the dark and they use this to find shelter.
“The high-contrast hole is a big attractant for mice in new situations,” said Ecolab Senior Scientist Douglas Gardner. “When they first enter a building, they will dart into holes, especially those closest to the door by which they entered.” So, he explained, you will be playing right into their behavior by putting multi-catch and wind-up traps near doors—which they will see as ideal holes in which to hide.
Even during the day when its eyesight is less keen, the rodent gets around and finds holes quite easily by using its whiskers. Extending about 1-1/2 (3.81 cm) inches from its head, their whiskers aren’t simply hairs—they have muscles at the base and are very sensitive. So the mouse can move its whiskers in broad sweeps, side to side, or hold them straight out in front to feel the wall against which it is running or the hole into which it wants to go. “Their vibrissae are sensitive enough to pick up even shape and texture,” Gardner said. “So they can use this ‘force field’ to investigate new things, recognize what it is, and choose whether or not to go further.”
If, with all this, the rodent gets past the first defense and gets established in the building, it will have found shelter and not need to seek out additional holes. Thus, an additional control strategy needs to be implemented to focus on this new behavior. This next layer of defense involves snap traps and temporary placement of glue boards along runways and against walls, which are regularly inspected and removed if a rodent is caught.
“Integrating the research into rodent control programs has validated Ecolab’s Outside-in approach which provides three layers of protection,” said Ecolab Senior Scientist Dr. John Barcay. This includes:
Identifying and reducing pest pressure externally is often the most effective long-term solution for establishing and maintaining a pest-free environment.
- Potential entry points need to be monitored and modified to reduce risk of rodents getting into the building.
- The presence of rodents inside the facility indicates that there has been a breach across the first two layers of protection, therefore it is required to proceed in regular inspection of interior traps for quick reaction and removal.