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Staying Ahead of the COVID-19 Rat Race

04.05.2020, 17:39

Staying Ahead of the COVID-19 Rat Race

Paul Blackhurst, Head of the Technical Academy at Rentokil Pest Control, explains how the company’s preventative digital solutions are countering changes in rodent behaviour during the COVID-19 lockdown.


There are numerous reports of rodents altering their behaviour as a result of the lockdown period. National Geographic has even suggested that rats are becoming bolder and are increasingly seen in daylight. This has led to commercial businesses and public sector premises having to re-think their preventative pest control strategies, whether they are vacant or remain partially or fully operational.

Coronavirus has created an unpredictable and challenging environment for businesses to operate in, but there are now conversations happening in government and around boardroom tables to determine how people might be able to slowly return to work. Firms such as Aston Martin, B&Q and Taylor Wimpy are among a number of UK firms making plans to reopen and get staff back to work.

As more businesses strategise how to resume operations, social distancing and hygiene in their premises will need to be prioritised. Facilities managers, particularly those responsible for hygiene and maintenance in office buildings that have been vacant for the past few months, will want to ensure pests haven’t moved in while their occupants have been working from home.

Rodents are opportunistic and will always be attracted to buildings as they typically provide shelter and an abundance of water and food. Fortunately, there are steps businesses can take to prevent rats and mice from taking up residence. Although providing access to buildings might be seen as an obstacle by facilities managers with the current restrictions, there are digital pest control solutions available, such as PestConnect, that allow for the remote 24/7 monitoring and control of rodents, with no need for unnecessary visits as a technician only needs to attend when a rodent has been captured and an alert is triggered. 


Using technology to fight rodent infestations remotely

Rentokil’s PestConnect is an innovative digital pest management system, providing 24/7 monitoring, rapid response and effective elimination of rodents. This connected and fully integrated pest control solution acts like a rodent burglar alarm, providing more insight into rodent activity than ever before. Connected devices send an alert via SMS immediately when a rodent is detected, so it’s known exactly where in the building, and when, a pest has triggered an alarm. A professional technician can then visit the premises to dispose of the pest and address the root cause of the pest problem.

With PestConnect operating as the eyes and ears on the ground, technicians can minimise visits to premises, only visiting when it is a necessity. During lockdown, PestConnect also allows businesses to keep tabs on rodent activity remotely, preventing a pest infestation from becoming a serious issue and ensuring premises are ready for some employees to return.

Unprecedented information on pest behaviour

Rodents are nocturnal and will come out of their hiding places at night in search of food and water. When the trigger information from over 7,000 PestConnect systems deployed across the country was analysed, we discovered the most common time that a rodent is active in an office setting is 0.36am.

While it’s useful to know when rats and mice are most active in the office, PestConnect can also tell you where in the building they are located. This can help facilities managers to be really targeted with their pest prevention strategies, finding hidden entrances and hiding places that may not otherwise be discovered. For example, analysis of our data found that 30% of infestations in warehouses and distribution centres originate in the loading bay area, where building entrances are frequently open.

Once rodents gain access to premises they are very difficult to control. A mouse can survive on as little as three grams of food per day and can eat from up to 70 different sources of food within 24 hours. PestConnect helps to control these populations, while at the same time limiting the use of toxic pesticides. It uses three versions of ‘connected’ traps – ‘AutoGate’ which uses infrared sensors to detect rodents outside the premises, RADAR for those mice that manage to find their way indoors and Rat Riddance Connect, a ‘smart trap’ used to monitor for and control rat activity inside. 

The system is completely compliant with the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) Code. Its RADAR traps kill rodents using carbon dioxide, a faster and more humane method of elimination, without using rodenticide. Rat Riddance is a connected mechanical trap and AutoGate is a device with barrier between bait and the environment, which only opens during an active rodent infestation.

Harnessing the latest technological breakthroughs and innovation, digital pest management solutions can help businesses to manage and prevent infestations without causing harm to the environment, and with a level of efficiency and visibility not possible without connected solutions.

Final thoughts

With many businesses closed, pest control can be difficult to maintain. However, rodent prevention is always better than a cure. A proactive, digital pest management strategy will mean that costly infestations are much less likely to disrupt your business when you begin to think about how your customers and employees might be able to return. PestConnect provides an unprecedented level of insight for technicians, so they can create a highly effective pest management strategy that complies with all health and safety legislation, minimises technician call outs, and reduces a business’s environmental impact.

CAMFIL HVAC Filtration Solutions

Staff Reporter covers the latest news, trends and opinion from the facilities management (FM) and corporate real estate (CRE) sectors. The FM market is currently estimated to be worth USD 1 trillion annually and is projected to grow at a compounded annualised rate of approximately 5% between now and 2026.

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