Unwelcome Guests: Preventing Rodents from Moving In

Rat, rodents - pest control

Underestimating a rodent infestation can be a reputation-ruining nightmare for successful businesses. Prevention measures that hotels can take include sealing entry points, monitoring at-risk areas of the property, and reporting sightings. Desiree Straubinger, market technical director at Rentokil Steritech North America, says, “Rodents are really difficult to control and they reproduce really quickly, so acting fast saves a significant amount of time and money.”

When hotel staff recognize an infestation, an experienced professional should be called not only to eradicate the existing pests, but to identify the source to prevent it from happening again. Also, because rodents can quickly reproduce, tackling the problem as soon as possible will prevent the infestation from spreading.

Infestations may begin with incorrectly sealed entry points like exterior doorways and mechanical closets. Rodents may also find their way into a property through pallet deliveries or frequently used doorways near a dumpster. Improperly sealed AC units and walls are another common way for rodents to sneak inside. These pests can easily chew through fabric, duct tape, and even drywall, so it’s only the tougher materials, e.g., sheet metal, hardware cloth, and steel or copper mesh, that stop them from getting through. Straubinger says, “Rodents are opportunists, so you want to make sure the building doesn’t have holes that will allow them to get in. All a rat needs to get in is a breach the size of a quarter. For a mouse it’s even less—the size of a dime.”

Rodents tend to nest in undisturbed places like storage areas and ceiling voids. Staff members should be on the lookout in these areas for droppings, and if found, communicate the location to managers immediately as well as clean the area. The rate at which droppings appear between cleanups can help identify the location and extent of an infestation. Straubinger says, “It’s really difficult to get rid of a large-scale infestation. You have to really take time to find its source, nesting areas, and runways. You also have to think like the rodents, figure out where they’re going, and where they’re coming from. There is no overnight solution.”

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Robin McLaughlin is digital editor of LODGING.