JAN 20, 2013: Vermin can be the bane of a smallholder’s life. Here is some advice on dealing with the problem from specialists PelGar International, from Hampshire

Vermin can be the bane of a smallholder’s life. Here is some advice on dealing with the problem from specialists PelGar International, from HampshireRats and mice are an inevitable part of country life. This year’s weather conditions have been particularly favourable for rodents to breed so it is likely that you could well see some rodent activity on your smallholding over the winter months. Neither rats nor mice hibernate so, in order to survive, they must adopt a nomadic and opportunistic approach in their search for food. As they migrate from the fields they will begin to invade rural properties, such as smallholdings, attracted by the smell of animals and food that may be accessible to them. Rodent infestations can develop very rapidly. Female rats will on average carry five litters a year with an average of around eight pups per litter which, in ideal conditions, can reach sexual maturity themselves in just five to six weeks. House mice reproduce at a similar rate, though as the name suggests live indoors so may have more favourable conditions to increase their numbers more readily. It is easy to see therefore how numbers can escalate to problem levels. “When an infestation is identified it is important to act quickly,” explains Nic Blaszkowicz, sales and marketing manager, PelGar International. “It is so much easier to get rid of a small infestation than a plague. Rats and mice can cause considerable damage in buildings and spread disease. While sometimes using of rodenticides is a daunting proposition, it is often the most effective route to control. Not only that but it is relatively simple and more cost effective to do yourself. Act quickly and most small infestations can be cleared up in a few weeks.” Once you have managed to get rid of an infestation there are a few steps that can be taken to make the environment less attractive and accessible to rodents and reduce the risk of a new population of rats coming in. Clear away rubbish, empty feed sacks and stored goods from the side of buildings as this will help to limit the places rats and mice like to travel and live. Keep the smallholding tidy and protect food stores by sealing the bottom of wooden doors with metal strips and fixing entry holes and broken pipes which might allow rodent access. Limiting the amount of free water by turning off taps and fixing leaks will also help. Taking these steps will not necessarily keep rodents away for good, but it will help to reduce the scale of infestations and allow you to identify problems more quickly and deal with them more efficiently. Pest control tips Clean Up This includes: 1. Clean up inside. Old newspapers or magazines, boxes, old cloths and rubbish in cupboards, spare rooms and basements provide ideal nesting places for rodents especially mice. In kitchens, pay particular attention to any neglected corners. 2. Clean up outside. Piles of bricks, timber, rubble, old cars or appliances, heaps of garden rubbish can all be used by rats and mice for nesting. 3. Make sure that rubbish bins have tight fitting lids and that they are always kept on. 4. Fix dripping taps and do not let water collect in buckets or tins outside. These are all sources of drinking water for rodents. 5. Do not leave food for pets or birds out overnight where rats can get at it. Keep them out Rats and mice are very mobile and can enter buildings in all sorts of ways. They can climb vertical surfaces and gnaw through walls and gaps around windows and doors. Mice need a hole only 6mm wide while a rat can squeeze through a hole not much bigger. They are also good swimmers and use waterways and sewers. 1. Seal holes around pipes into buildings with cement or metal sheathing. 2. Make sure that doors and windows fit tightly and repair any damage. 3. Cover all holes and gaps into basements and houses with fine wire mesh. Wipe them out Poison and traps are the most effective ways of killing rats and mice. Poison Bait. The use of poison bait is the most effective method of rodent control. With all baits follow the instructions on the pack carefully and remember: 1. Keep pets and children out of danger by putting bait inside a bait station or some other protected site. 2. Use fresh bait and protect it from the weather. MORE: Contact PelGar for a copy of their DVD email: info@pelgar.co.uk or view on YouTube and search ‘PelGar’.

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