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Understanding Rodent Behaviour for Effective Rodent Control

Rowan Burgess |

Rats and mice are a common problem for many livestock owners, and it's essential to know their habits and tendencies to prevent and control infestations effectively

They threaten the health and well-being of barnyard animals since they carry diseases that can be transmitted to livestock. Not to mention, they damage feed and water supplies along with infrastructure. 

By understanding how rodents behave, you can take appropriate measures to protect your property and livestock from the damage they cause. 

This guide aims to provide a clear understanding of rodent behaviour for effective rodent control

Behavioural Characteristics of Rats

Knowing rodent characteristics and tendencies is essential for livestock owners to avoid animal disturbance. Rats, in particular, showcase behavioural traits such as neophobia, nocturnal habits, and fast reproduction, making them challenging to manage. 

By becoming familiar with these characteristics, livestock owners can implement suitable measures to safeguard their livestock and decrease property damage.

Rats Communicate Using Pheromones 

Rats utilise pheromones to communicate with one another for various reasons, such as fear signalling, social organisation, and reproduction. When rats discover palatable food, they communicate this to other rats through scent markings. This emphasises the significance of selecting appropriate bait and location to attract rodents for effective rat control. 

Small livestock, like chickens and ducks, can attract rats due to the warmth and food associated with them. Open food and water given to these animals can also support the growing population of rats. Installing a fine-mesh fence can help keep out tiny pests.

Rats Are Neophobic 

Rats have a natural survival mechanism that makes them neophobic or afraid of new and unfamiliar things. This includes newly placed rodenticide bait, bait boxes, or monitoring devices. It's recommended to acclimate the bait boxes at effective rodent spots over several days before introducing the bait. Rats typically sample new food items before accepting them, so recognising the bait's food type is crucial for effective control.

Rats are Attracted to Waste

Farm animal waste attracts rats due to the nutrients and calories it contains. Farm owners should keep track of their livestock defecation spots and clean up waste immediately using odour-blocking materials to deter rats.

Rats are Nocturnal 

Rats exhibit nocturnal behaviour, meaning they're primarily active during periods of darkness between dawn and dusk. Being active at night allows rats to avoid being detected by predators, letting them roam freely in the dark. 

Livestock owners can combat the fact that rats are nocturnal to protect their animals by implementing measures such as securing all feed and water sources, removing any potential hiding places, and properly storing all animal waste. 

Additionally, strategically setting up traps and baits can help control the rodent population. Livestock owners can also invest in lighting and motion sensors to deter rats from entering their property at night. It is essential to regularly inspect and maintain the property to prevent any potential infestations.

Rats Are Most Commonly Ground-Based 

Rats typically live in burrows in the ground, but they can also enter buildings by climbing roofs or tree branches. For livestock owners, burrow baiting is an effective way of controlling rodents, and it also reduces the risk of non-target access to the bait.

Rats Have a Fast Reproduction Rate

Rats reproduce quickly because they have a short gestation period, and babies are weaned in 21 days. Livestock owners can control the rodent problem by implementing measures such as proper sanitation practices to eliminate potential food sources for the rats, using bait stations with appropriate rodenticides, and sealing any entry points into livestock enclosures to prevent rats from accessing them.

Behavioural Characteristics of Mice

Mice are common pests found on farms. Like rats, they're a huge headache for livestock owners since they carry diseases and can wreak havoc on your farm. In general, mice are smaller and more curious and agile than rats. We'll cover the characteristics of mice to help you better control infestations. 

Mice Are Curious Investigators 

Mice are curious creatures and natural explorers, which can make them a problem for livestock owners. They investigate new things, including any openings or gaps in buildings or fences that could lead them to potential food sources. This can put livestock at risk, as mice can carry diseases and cause property damage.

Mice Don't Travel as Far to Feeding Sites 

When mice are captured and released nearby, they will likely return. To prevent this, mice should be removed at least 2 miles away to make tracing their way back more difficult. This is because mice do not recognise anything outside their original shelter and food source, making them eager to return.

A study found that, on average, mice will travel back home from a distance of 394 meters within 24 hours. Farm owners must prevent mouse infestations through trapping and relocation methods.

Mice are Excavators 

Mice are natural excavators due to their innate burrowing instincts. They create complex tunnel systems to protect themselves from predators and extreme weather conditions. However, this behaviour can be problematic for farm owners as mice can damage the structure of barns and sheds and even chew through electrical wiring, creating a fire hazard.

Owners can keep their barns and sheds clean and debris-free and use rodent-proof containers for feed and other materials. Additionally, it's essential to implement a regular rodent control program, such as bait stations or traps.

Final Thoughts

Rodents are a handful to deal with. They carry diseases that can spread through your livestock, contaminate water and feeds left out, and chew through wiring. Now that you understand their common characteristics, you can better protect your livestock and prevent infestations. 

Dalton's offers a range of rodent control products to protect your property and livestock from the damage and potential health risks caused by rodents. Take action against rats and mice today by exploring Dalton's rodent control products.