Discovering a rat infestation in a warehouse is not just a problem for food contamination. Rats can also affect your premises by causing damage and possibly creating a fire hazard. This article shows you exactly how to get rid of rats in a warehouse – from prevention to pest control.
If your warehouse is part of the food industry, you must adhere to the UK regulations covering pest control. Prevention is better than cure as an infestation can lose your business money and even lead to it being closed by environmental health.
If you suspect that you have unwelcome rodent visitors, you must take immediate action.
Why are rats a problem in a warehouse?
You should never ignore a rat problem in a warehouse. Your business could be severely affected along with the health of your staff, customers and the wider community.
Rats cause many potential problems:
Disease: Rats are responsible for spreading a wide range of diseases. In the UK, one of the most common is Leptospirosis, commonly called Weil’s Disease. The condition is spread by an infected rat’s urine and blood. It can contaminate soil and water.
Bacteria: Rats carry a wide range of bacteria that can cause cross-contamination in a warehouse, mainly if food products are being stored. They are thought to be the most significant cause of Salmonella infection in humans.
Damage: Chewing, nesting, urination and faeces will all cause potential hazards to your premises. Rats may cause damage to expensive products and storage containers with their incredibly sharp teeth. It is not uncommon for them to chew through electrical wires, a potential fire hazard.
Reputation: A rat infestation can lead to ongoing problems in your supply chain if your goods are contaminated or damaged. You could lose customers if this is linked to a problem in your warehouse.
The big issue with rats is that they have a very short life cycle, meaning they breed quickly. If you ignore one rat, you will probably have a severe problem within a few weeks. To be clear, rats can produce more than ten young every three weeks, so you ignore them at your peril.
What are the signs of rats in a warehouse?
If you suspect that you have rats, you must quickly sort out the problem. However, you need to know what signs to look for in your building.
Observation is your biggest weapon in spotting rats. You may notice droppings, see tracks on the floor, or damage from gnawing. You may also hear rats gnawing or smell their urine.
Unless your warehouse is manned at night, you are unlikely to see an actual rat. They are nocturnal creatures, so it is rare to spot one during daylight.
A daytime sighting is a concern since it could indicate a severe infestation or a disturbed nest.
Rat droppings can tell you a lot about your infestation. Try and inspect the droppings to gauge the size of your suspected pest population.
- Rat droppings are between 10 and 12mm long compared to mice droppings, which are around 4mm.
- Different size dropping could indicate a growing population of adults and young.
- Shiny, soft droppings are fresh and suggest that you have live rats on the premises.
- If the droppings are in one area, it could indicate the presence of brown rats as they often create a dedicated toilet area.
- One rat can produce 40 droppings a day, so doing a rough count will indicate the size of the rat population.
How do I get rid of rats in my warehouse?
There are two crucial elements to controlling a rat infestation. To get the best result, you will need to tackle elimination and prevention.
Elimination of Rats
To eliminate rats, you will need to use chemicals or traps. There are different varieties available, but rodenticides should be used with caution.
Some rat colonies have become immune to rodenticides, and professionals will be able to evaluate the situation.
Rats are clever creatures, so they are often hesitant to approach traps when placed in their environment. Professionals will know how to set traps in a carefully designed plan.
Pest control specialists will inspect and monitor the traps whilst keeping a record to adapt and evaluate their effectiveness. Black rats love to climb, which means inspecting rafters and roofs as part of the control.
Another aspect of elimination is to remove the elements of the environment that could be harbouring the rats. Waste, rubbish, and old pallets will attract rats and give them places to hide.
A water source is another important part of the environment that attracts rats. Without water, they cannot survive, so remove any leaks or drips that the rats could be using.
Prevention of Rats
If you do not want rats to return to your warehouse, you need to come up with a plan to keep them away. All staff must consistently follow policies for rodent control to be effective.
Keep premises clean: Cleanliness and tidiness are excellent ways to discourage rats. Ensure that any food waste is disposed of securely and frequently collected to remove a source of attraction.
Develop a policy for clearing up spillages immediately to remove any potential water source for rats and fix dripping taps and leaks.
Keep doors closed: An open warehouse is an invitation to a rat. Consider investing in automatic doors that will ensure your warehouse is not left exposed. At the very least, ensure that any potential entry points are not left open unnecessarily.
Packaging: Inspect any food packaging in the warehouse for damage as this will create an entry for rats. They can squeeze into the tightest spaces, primarily when driven by hunger.
Repair packaging or discard damaged food and drink items to prevent access to any food sources.
No food policy: Discourage staff from eating in the warehouse as crumbs and discarded food will attract rats. Provide a sealed-off room for food breaks and encourage cleanliness.
Zoning: Zoning is an effective way of managing pest control. Sealed off areas are far easier to keep isolated and secure from a rodent infestation than one large open area. Use high-speed closing doors in food preparation areas to keep rodents away from temptation.
Hire a pest control company: The best way to eliminate and prevent rats in a warehouse is to hire professionals to deal with the problem. You want to choose a company that uses highly trained certified specialists to ensure that your rat problem is dealt with effectively.