Over the last two years, the rodent population in Boston has increased by more than 28 percent, with the city showing a 28 percent rise since 2014. Although the problem affects all parts of the city, it seems to be more pronounced in areas populated by the less affluent. The primary explanation for this difference is because lawsuits in richer neighborhoods are typically lodged by property owners, while in less fortunate areas, it is difficult to locate tenants until people register the incidents. The new rodent infestation in homes is looking for simple food, shelter, water, and warmth. Whereas rodents can cause a wide range of health conditions, the infestation can effectively be controlled through the collective effort of residents and the city exterminators given the various pest control solutions at their disposal.
Rodents especially mice and rats are among the leading causes of damage to cereal crops and a range of human diseases including typhoid, scabies, and paratyphoid. According to the CDC, these pests spread more than 35 diseases globally through direct contact, rodent bites or exposure to their urine, saliva or feces. It is also noteworthy that the diseases can also be transmitted indirectly via infected ticks, fleas or mites. The less fortunate particularly those living in Roxbury faces an even greater risk because they cannot afford extermination services which often range between $130 and $250 for initial inspection and treatment.
Once they infest an area, they can also cause significant damage to property within a very short time. The incisor teeth of rodents lack roots and tend to grow throughout their lifetime. In this light, the rodents have to constantly gnaw different materials such as wood, plastics, and some metals to prevent the teeth from overgrowing. Besides the physical destruction of property, gnawing away at electrical wiring can cause a serious fire hazard. Conventional methods of preventing this infestation and hence the damage have proven futile. For instance, although poisoning may kill some of the rodents, they usually die in hard-to-reach areas like in wall cavities or under floorboards where they create a horrible smell in the house that can at times last for weeks.
Controlling the infestation should first include discouraging the rodents from taking up homes by removing food, water, and other items that give them warmth and shelter. Where necessary, this approach should be integrated with various pest management techniques including environmental sanitation, rodent-proofing, trapping and proper food storage. First, residents should always keep food as well as water sources covered and in rodent-proof containers; such containers are usually made of thick glass, plastic or metal and have tight-fitting lids. Pet food should also be covered and stored in the rodent-proof containers. The pets should then be allowed only enough food for a single meal after which the rest should be either stored or discarded. Ideally, this step would ensure no food is left out overnight. Secondly, traps are only effective when the right type is used correctly. Accordingly, spring-loaded traps should be strategically placed against wall surface or baseboards where rodents have been detected. Other traps like the glue-based should not be used because they may increase the risk of being exposed to rodent diseases.
Outside the residential, debris and trash should not be left to accumulate. Woodpiles for storage should be kept about 12 inches above the ground and away from homes. Similarly, anything that may attract rodents like carcasses, grains and animal feeds should either disposed or stored in rodent-proof containers. Next, the city should constantly trim or remove grass, and thick shrubbery, which may act as nesting sites for rodents. Spring-loaded traps should also be set outside the homes and in other areas with signs of infestation.
Mice and rats can squeeze through small holes the size of a nickel and of a half dollar respectively. Such gaps can be found in kitchen cabinets, closets, refrigerators, around fireplaces, windows, and many other places inside and outside homes. Once identified, the gaps can be filled with different materials including steel wool, cement, hardware cloth and lath screen to mention but a few; the filling materials are readily available in the local hardware stores. Further, effective control of the infestation requires the unified effort of the citizens and pest control professionals. Therefore, the areas experiencing the infestation should contact exterminators to arrange for a consultation. These professionals are not only trained to handle current outbreaks but also to address future infestations.
Indeed, rodents can cause many issues, but the infestation can be controlled through the collective effort of the citizens and the city exterminators. The residents should prevent contact with pests by cleaning up rodent foods and nesting sites, sealing tiny holes around within the neighborhood and setting traps to help reduce the population. Controlling rodents using this approach is cost effective because no significant cost is incurred besides on the extermination services. Although hiring a professional may seem a bit expensive, it is the best way to rid the city of pests. Some exterminators charge up to $300 for such services; the price is fair considering the intensive work they do including assessing the infestation, identifying the lair and entry points and managing the outbreak. It is also noteworthy that periodic visits can also be arranged at a lower cost. With the escalating rodent population, it is essential that the city takes action now to address the issue.
“Rodents | CDC.” Cdc.Gov, 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/.
“Seal Up! | Rodents | CDC”. Cdc.Gov, 2010, https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/prevent_infestations/seal_up.html.