How to avoid rats and mice feasting in your restaurant

08/03/2013 - 12:29
Rats, mice and other rodents are looking for two things during the winter time – a place to live and a place to eat.

With the recent cold snap and snow continuing to grip parts of England, these pests are increasingly heading indoors to take shelter. Unfortunately some of the more popular places for pests to seek comfort are in pubs and restaurants, not only because they offer warmth but also a readily available supply of food.

This poses a headache for the hospitality industry as these new occupants not only pose a major health risk to employees and customers, but can also cause longer-lasting damage to the premises and the reputation of the establishment.

Rodents are known to spread infections such as Salmonella, Hantavirus and Weil's disease. They can contaminate food and gnaw through doors and electrical cords, sometimes causing fires. Their feeding habits are destructive and their nesting habits can compromise the infrastructure of a building. With such high risks involved, it makes sense for any business to proactively prevent and quickly deal with any signs of infestation. A simple ‘rodent recce’ of your premises is inexpensive and could prove to be the difference between becoming a rat-run and remaining rodent-free.

Early prevention: Products such as Rentokil’s Mouse Monitor Unit can be used to detect the very early stages of a rodent infestation. This product can detect mice using infra-red sensor technology and is suitable for sensitive areas such as those involved in food preparation and food processing.

Don’t let them in: Seal any holes larger than the width of a biro pen - they can squeeze through incredibly small gaps and chew through all sorts of materials. Rentokil advises sealing openings with steel wool or caulk.

Remove sources of food: Store food and food waste in glass or metal containers and regularly clean under stoves, refrigerators and cupboards as this provides a haven for pests. Make sure you keep you rubbish in a strong bin with a lid.

Cleanliness is key: Dirty and messy areas will attract mice so it’s best to keep clutter to a minimum. Move crates and boxes away from the wall to ensure you can check what’s behind them, seal holes in walls, ensure refuse on site is kept in closed bins, and clean pipes and drains regularly.

But how do you spot the danger signs?

Smell: When you have a pest infestation, one of the tell-tale signs is the smell. For rats and mice it’s a very strong ammonia smell.

Sound: Listen for scrabbling noises in the walls or floors as you move around the premises.

Droppings: Rats leave dark, pellet-shaped droppings that can be up to 14mm in length. Mice, however, leave smaller, more spindle shaped droppings which are approximately 5mm long.

Smears: Grease marks from the rodent’s body can appear on objects such as doors and skirting boards as they repeatedly brush up against them.

Damaged stock: Keep an eye out for gnawing marks, ripped food packets and piles of shredded paper, fabric and plastic. Shredded materials such as insulation foam, cardboard and plastic, which are used as nesting materials, are also a major sign.

Whether you’re dealing with a rodent problem or are simply looking to prevent one, it’s important that you know who to contact. For any external contractor, part of their role is to be fully up-to-speed on the latest legislation changes in their area of expertise. Pest controllers are no different, so if you’re in any doubt as to what substances, treatments or preventative measures to use, then it’s always best to check with the experts.

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