Removing Ecological Conditions favoring the Proliferation of Commensal Rodents & their Predators, without Endangering Raptors.

— This article by Jerry Cates was first published on 14 May 2016, and was last revised and expanded on 10 March 2019. © Bugsinthenews Vol. 17:05(02.1).


Controlling Commensal Rodents — with the EntomoBiotics Inc. Rodent & Snake Control System (RSCS™) — Without Harming Raptors

Fig. 1. The EntomoBiotics Inc. RSCS™ bait station uses stock Bell Labs Unweighted Landscape (BLUL) and Weighted Landscape (BLWL) bait stations modified in our lab to meet stringent RSCS™ specifications; to work with the RSCS™ program the stock bait station is elevated above a sealed, coated, and labeled wooden base, the interior concrete block (in the case of the BLWL) is coated with a waterproofing sealant, the bait posts are permanently affixed to the bait platform, the plastic stock base is perforated to improve airflow and drainage, and a permanent lubricant is applied to the locking mechanism to make it easier service and further strengthen its already-stellar resistance to tampering.

The proprietary EntomoBiotics Inc. RSCS device — a crucial part of our Enhanced Ecosystem Monitoring, Management, and Control (E2M2C™) program — eliminates rats, mice, and large insects from commercial and residential sites. Then, so long as the site continues in the RSCS™ program and is regularly serviced according to that program’s strict protocols, it keeps the site virtually free of rats and mice, and reduces populations of large insects, in perpetuity.

Indirectly it reduces the incidence of snakes that prey on rats, mice and large insects as well. Snakes go where prey can be found, and spend little time elsewhere.

PROTECTING TEXAS RAPTORS WITH A RIGOROUS RAPTOR SAFETY PROTOCOL (RSP™)…

Wrong ways of controlling rats, mice and large insects in urban settings can do more harm than good. Conventional control regimes often lead to injury or death to the eagles, hawks, owls, kites, harriers, caracaras, falcons, kestrels, and vultures that prey on rodents, carrion and large insects.

Nearsighted zeal must be tempered with a view of the larger picture. In light of this, the E2M2C™ operational program incorporates, first and foremost, a rigorous Raptor Safety Protocol (RSP).

All the stakeholders involved — our staff, the on-site managers, residents and/or homeowners, and as much as possible, even their nearby neighbors — are educated on the components of the EEMC™ program and the RSP that governs its operation.

Certain elements of that protocol — judicious selection of control products known to be less likely to cause secondary-poisoning harm to raptors, for example — are carried out by our staff. Others may require resident stakeholders to change the way they feed their companion pets, or how they attract wild birds to their yards. It may mandate that resident stakeholders modify habitat conditions within the site, making the site less inviting to nocturnally-active wildlife. Together, in a cooperative effort that gets everyone involved, the goal of bringing rodents and large insects under control without endangering raptors is achieved.

One of the most important raptor-sensitive elements of the E2M2C™ program is the consistent reduction of rodent populations within extensive neighborhood areas over long periods of time. The objective here is to keep commensal rodent populations low to non-existent, and avoid precipitous spikes in their populations. It is such spikes that do the most harm, first from the epidemiological risks from rodents infected with the myriad diseases they are known to carry and spread to man, and second from the poisoning risks that raptors face when man pulls out all the stops to rid neighborhoods of sudden surges in rodent populations.

In urban settings this is crucial, as raptors are most at risk of secondary poisoning when — in response to a spike in rodent populations — homeowners and pest control companies deluge a neighborhood with highly toxic rodenticides. Poisoned rodents, less able to hide from predators, become more susceptible to capture by the raptors that are attracted to that area by the upsurge in rodent numbers. Raptors that capture and consume multiple poisoned rodents over a short period of time risk being poisoned themselves, especially by rodenticides that are not quickly metabolized but bio-accumulate in their bodies. Consistent reductions in commensal rodent populations effectively eliminates the poisoning risk to raptors.

Based on our 38 years of experience in scientific rodent control, we believe the RSCS program is the most advanced, practical, and effective means of rat and mouse control ever developed. In conjunction with the Enhanced Ecosystem Management and Control (EEMC™) program, we also believe it is the best way to accomplish commensal rodent control without harming raptors.

The RSCS program presently deployed at nursing homes, residences, restaurants, and a variety of other sites throughout Texas gives as much attention to protecting raptors as it does to controlling rodents. This is very important. Though raptors, alone, cannot eliminate rodent populations in urban settings, they are Mother Nature’s first line of defense against them in the wild. When raptor populations decline, rodent populations soar, so keeping raptors healthy and plentiful is one of the keys to good rodent control anywhere.

New E2M2C™ sites are being added throughout Texas on a regular basis. At each of these sites the RSCS program is on track to successfully keep rats and mice out of sight and out of mind.

We often get called to sites where — after months of trying — other pest management firms have failed to control the rat and mouse populations there. The RSCS™ program has never failed, even under challenging conditions. It then keeps on working, day after day, month after month, year after year…

The program has three basic parts, and may — when needed — include a fourth:

(1) it employs a special rodent bait station, modified and maintained in the EntomoBiotics Inc. laboratory, that adheres to stringent RSCS standards; this station — which is constantly being updated and improved — is deployed in its most advanced form at new sites immediately, and retrofitted to existing RSCS™ program sites at the next scheduled service visit;

(2) each station is provisioned with RSCS certified rodent bait; and

(3) the provisioning and maintenance of each station follows a strict set of RSCS program protocols.

This science-based 3-part program lures, feeds, and exterminates commensal rodents quickly and efficiently, and prevents fresh populations from developing.

For some sites, a fourth part — male and female rodent contraception — is added to the RSCS program. Where rodents have been nesting in large numbers for some time, the rodent population cannot be controlled simply by exterminating mature rodents alone.

Rats from nearby hog farms, wilderness areas, untreated food processing facilities and waste dumps, for example, may infiltrate the client’s site in regular waves. In such cases, adding rodent fertility abatement measures to the mix halts progeny development while adults are being exterminated. Specialized RSCS contraceptive stations are used.

These are provisioned with  feeding cartridges containing EPA-approved birth-control formulations that render male and female rats temporarily sterile. Even under what was previously the most intractable of circumstances, no rodent infestation is a match for this 4-part RSCS program.

The RSCS™ contraceptive bait station uses a special tamper-resistant container, in which are placed up to two liquid contraceptive bait feeders. The tamper-resistant station minimizes risks to non-target species, including raptors. The contraceptive effect is reversible, and must be regularly consumed by the rodents to keep them sterile; its active ingredients, Vinylcyclohexene diepoxide and Triptolide, are rendered to inactive metabolites within 15 minutes after ingestion. A raptor would have to capture and consume the rodent within 15 minutes following consumption of the contraceptive to risk being affected even temporarily. Further, the contraceptive liquid does not alter rat behavior; it specifically does not make them more vulnerable to predation.

Sites protected by the RSCS™ program are easily identified by the distinctive labels affixed to the bases of each station. These labels include a QR code that can be scanned using smart phone cameras to link to this article, enabling anyone curious about the purpose of the station to obtain, immediately, important information about it. Visitors to any site protected by this system can rest assured that the owner or site manager takes their safety and health seriously enough to implement the best rodent control system in the world.

At all sites the RSCS program includes intensive consultation with client management and staff. Two-way consultations work to secure the client’s assistance and cooperation in removing and/or repairing rodent ingress/egress ports in the shells of the client’s structures. Habitats that harbor and nurture rodents on the site are also identified and, in a cooperative effort, remediated. Rodent-attractive food sources on the site are also identified and a means of eliminating the identified sources is developed and implemented with the cooperation and assistance of all involved.

Common questions: Why is effective, efficient, and practical rodent control so important? And why does the RSCS program include snake control? These questions are addressed in what follows.

Commensal Rodents, Commodity Waste, and Human Disease…

Rats and mice pose significant hazards to humans and our food supply. Eleven diseases are known to be directly transmitted to man by rats and mice; four of these are transmitted by the fecal pellets left behind by rodents when they pass through an area. An additional fifteen diseases are indirectly transmitted to man by the parasites (ticks, mites, fleas, and mosquitoes) that typically infest rodents. These are not trivial diseases, but often lead to death, chronic disease, and severe disability. Here’s one prominent example:

Many Americans who were adults in April and May of 1993 remember those months vividly, as a frightening time when a mysterious fatal disease, never before known to man, first reared its ugly head.

This unexplained pulmonary illness occurred in “the Four Corners,” an arid portion of the southwestern United States where four states — Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah — intersect at a single geographic spot. The region hosts the Hopi, Ute, Navajo, and Zuni Nation American Indian Reservations. Near that intersection of four U.S. States, in April of 1993, a young, healthy Navajo woman arrived at an emergency room in Gallup, New Mexico. She had flu-like symptoms and complained of shortness of breath. On examination doctors found her lungs filled with fluid, and though the physicians and nurses did all they could, she soon died.

Five days later, the deceased woman’s fiancee, a young, healthy Navajo man, fell ill while traveling to her funeral. An ambulance was called, but he stopped breathing on the way to the Indian Medical Center emergency room, and despite paramedics performing CPR he could not be revived. The similarity of his symptoms and those leading to the death of his betrothed led the Emergency Room doctors to report his death to the New Mexico Department of Health. Soon it was discovered that, within the previous six months, a total of six other mystery deaths with identical symptoms had occurred. Shortly afterward an additional dozen new cases were reported.

The cause was a previously unheralded disease now known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS. It is spread by deer mice in the genus Peromyscus.  Diseases spread by mice and rats are nothing new. In fact, as the Centers for Disease Control discovered in their investigation, unreported deaths from HPS had actually been taking place since the 1950’s. Besides HPS, though, a long list of rodent-borne diseases are common wherever large populations of rats and mice are allowed to congregate, nest, and multiply.

As mentioned earlier, rats directly transmit at least eleven diseases to man, and four of these are transmitted in their fecal pellets. Fifteen more diseases are indirectly transmitted to man by their parasites (ticks, mites, fleas, and mosquitoes). Again, these are not trivial diseases. They often lead to death, chronic disease, and severe disability.

Helping mankind avoid such diseases is an important job. It is, in fact, the foundation on which modern pest management stands. EntomoBiotics Inc. has been intimately involved in rodent control since 1980. We’ve always taken that job seriously, which is why we declared war, early on, against commensal rodents. The RSCS program represents the culmination of that work.

Snakes, and their Direct Connection to Commensal Rodents…

Throughout our career in pest management we have, with regularity, received calls about snakes in residences and businesses. The caller asks “How can you stop our snake problem…” Whenever we receive such calls, our first reaction is to explain to the caller that — most of the time — what they have isn’t really a snake problem. Instead, they have a commensal rodent problem that attracts snakes to their residence or business. Of course, other attractants, such as bird nests, lizards, and large insects, may also be involved, but the most prominent attractant of snakes is, hands down, the commensal rodent. Once commensal rodents are brought under control, 90% of the snake problems disappear. That last 10% is still problematic… and is dealt with by bringing bird nesting, lizard populations, and large insects in the area under control as well.

Over the years we’ve developed stellar programs to handle all these issues. The RSCS™ rodent bait station is at the heart of all those programs.

Though it isn’t easy, we’re winning the war on commensal rodents and snakes, and our weapon of choice today is the EntomoBiotics Inc. Rodent & Snake Control System (RSCS™). As described earlier in this article, our RSCS™ is a comprehensive program that combines habitat modification, bait servicing, and — yes — for especially challenging and/or otherwise intractable rodent infestations, even rodent birth control. This system, like the most advanced control systems contrived for other pestiferous organisms, forces the commensal rodents, lizards, and large insects involved to help — unwittingly — in their own destruction.

Much of what that system does is invisible to you, but if you see one or more of our associated Rodent & Snake Control System (RSCS™) devices at a friend’s house, at a restaurant, a nursing home, or at another commercial establishment, you can be sure that friend, Administrator, or proprietor is doing their best to help you avoid rodent-borne diseases. Today, protecting you and your loved ones — from the dangerous diseases spread by rats and mice — is not an option. It is an imperative.

More To Come… 


— Questions? Comments? Corrections? e-mail jerry.cates@entomobiotics.com. You may also leave a comment in the space provided below.

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