Businesses in which food is stored or handled are especially prone to rodent invasion. Good sanitation practices are essential. Keeping food well-sealed is very important and more difficult than might initially appear. |
Scraps of food can often be found in floor drains, under food preparation equipment and stored products, and around refuse and entry areas. Outside doors are often left ajar or fit poorly due to heavy use, physical damage, or improper installation. Space under equipment (mixers, stoves, counters, or refrigerators) should allow easy cleaning and inspection, or be closed off completely with rodent-proof materials (Fig. 5).
Mice and rats are sometimes found using freezer and refrigerator compressor areas for harborage and water (from condensation on cold coils). Mice are often found in the insulated walls of large coolers. Look closely at corners and edges of metal, or other material covering the insulation, for rodent openings. Drains should have adequate screens or grates to prevent rodent entry. Food disposal, refuse, and damaged goods areas are often located close to food handling or storage areas and are not sealed from rodents. Areas near loading docks should be closely inspected for cracks, broken screens, damaged doors, and uneven floors near doorways. Interior loading docks served by rail cars are difficult to close due to the tracks, but rubber door guards made to fit the tracks are available and will deter rodent entry.
Rodent-infested goods in food warehouses commonly include cereals, flour, and baking mixes; waxed carton drinks; dry pet foods; dried fruits and nuts; fresh produce; paper goods; charcoal briquets, and damaged goods. Products in these categories should be kept in open, easily inspected areas, not in dark corners. Regular and routine removal of such nonsalable or nonusable products should be standard practice to enhance cleanliness and safety and to reduce harborage.
Apartments and Houses. Utility entry points include underground electrical and communication trunk lines, and exhaust vents for clothes dryers. Power lines have always been a favorite route of travel for commensal rodents, especially roof rats. Check all roof joints for tightness and presence of flashing, if rats and mice have access to the roof via wire, pipes, plants, or rough-textured walls. Also check roof and sewer vents for adequate screening and sealing, including presence of tight roof jacks (Fig. 6).
Chimneys should be checked for properly installed flashing or for missing mortar. Rats occasionally enter buildings through toilet traps in inner-city areas with rat-infested sewer systems. In such cases, tracks and water may be found on the rim of toilet bowls. Both roof and Norway rats have been known to enter structures via the sewage system. This route usually occurs in older (20 years or more) established areas with poorly maintained sewer systems. Mice often enter under entry doors, through holes beside water pipes and electrical conduit, and through the cold air return ducts on forced air furnaces, especially those located in outside cabinets or garages, and underneath mobile homes.
Mice and rats often find easy access to garage areas through open doors or under and beside poor-fitting garage doors. Once in the garage, they may gain entry into the main structure along electrical lines, pipes, poorly sealed fire wall sheathing, or around furnace ducts, hot water heaters, or laundry drains.
If rodents are able to reach the attic, they may travel from room to room or unit to unit through openings for pipes, ducts, and wiring. Attics provide excellent harborage in winter, spring, and fall, but are often too hot during summer. Common attics, basements, or raised foundations in condominiums and apartments are a frequent source of rodent infestation.
Another source of entry to residences, and a source of harborage for rats and mice, are fireplaces—especially the newer preconstructed zero clearance sheet metal units that eliminate the need for concrete mortar and brick. A hollow space is left in the siding and the fireplace support framing between the outside wall and the fireplace. Rats and mice can enter this area from the outside via the roof joint, between the siding and decorative wood corner trim, around gas pipes, or outside wood storage doors.
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