Norway rats spread west from Asia through human migration, arriving in Europe in the 1500s and the Western Hemisphere in the 1700s. With the exception of polar regions, some islands and the Canadian province of Alberta, Norway rats are a worldwide pest and are the dominant rat species in Europe and most of North America. Alberta has worked hard since the first Norway rat was discovered in 1950 to keep itself rat-free, including monitoring a buffer zone within 29 km (18 mi) of its lower eastern border with Saskatchewan and destroying rats whenever they are found.
Management failures are often blamed on rats disliking new things in their environment (neophobia). However, it’s more likely that failures are due to treatment measures not being placed within 10 feet of established routes used by rats. These routes can be identified by inspecting for rat droppings, rub marks, gnawing and burrows. Baiting snap traps without setting them (prebaiting) can acclimate rats to the traps as well as help determine food preference if several options are provided. If using glue trays, placing them directly on rat’s routes takes advantage of their tendency to follow established routes blindly. However, rats slow down as they approach corners, glue trays should not be placed in them.
Photo Credit: Dunpharlain, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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The commensal rodents are highly intelligent and adaptive pests that must be managed because of their ability to cause sickness and diseases. Understanding their behavior is the root of effective rodent management. After completing this course, you should be able to identify the commensal rodents and Peromyscus mice, recognize the diseases carried by pest rodents, understand how these rodents sense and navigate their environment and then recommend the proper management methods for each.
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