Rat Attack

Towards a rodent-free community
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

Have you ever seen gnawed objects, urine and droppings, dark greasy smudges caused by repeated contact with the walls, and tracks consisting of five wee toes in the back and four in front with tail drag marks, and/or heard squeaking noises during the night? Chances are, rats could have already been infesting your home.
Rats are very good at avoiding detection, so even if you don't see them running around your homes, it doesn't mean they're not there.
Close to 4 million rats are born each day and each one a potential carrier or vector of 70 life-threatening diseases including Leptospirosis, Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium, Eosinophilic meningitis, Murine typhus, and Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HSP). The latter, in particular, can be deadly to humans. Rat salmonella, on the other hand, can be spread through rat urine and droppings. Leaving exposed food items increases the risk for poisoning. Moreover, rats carry fleas that cause and/or spread deadly diseases as well.
Did you know that rats are intelligent and adaptable creatures? Proof of this is their ability to outwit the several means with which men have tried to eradicate them - snap traps, glue boards, zapper traps, and most recently, instant-kill rat poisons – that have all proven unsuccessful through the years.
It is important to remember that rats multiply in numbers really fast. Females reach sexual maturity between 2 to 4 months, at times five weeks of age, and go into heat every four to five days from then on unless they're pregnant or nursing. Each female rat can have as much as 5 to 7 litters a year, with each litter producing an average of 10 to 12 mice, which will eventually reproduce as they mature after a few short weeks. A single one can produce an average of 85 mice in its lifetime.
A 13- to 18-inch rat can go through a .05 square inch of aperture and can create holes on wood floorings and walls. Every year, people in riverside communities run the risk of being exposed to the aforementioned diseases if they are not vigilant and committed to controlling the rat population in their respective areas.
Rats, after all, are prone to infesting water, and last year alone, close to 200 people died after being exposed to soil and water infested with rat urine. They suffered from the dreaded Leptospirosis, which is caused by direct contact to the urine of an infected animal.
Lasam-Cruz points out that communities located beside a river should be informed on how they can effectively control the rat population in their area, and hence prevent their families from being exposed to Leptospirosis, rat fever and other life-threatening diseases that rats may be carrying.
“The main reason why most rats learn how to outsmart other products is that they can immediately observe the effect that they have on poisoned rats. Rat infestations should never be taken lightly. One of the ways you can protect and win your homes back from these rodents is to commit yourselves to understanding their behavior,” warns Mari-Gail Lasam-Cruz, marketing manager for Bayer Advanced Racumin in the Philippines.
Rats travel and use the same route in their constant search for food and water. They feed on grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, seeds, feeds and chew on textiles, paper, wood, soap and even electrical wirings.
“Rats are most active during the first half of the night when food is abundant while mice are generally active throughout the night; both right after dusk and between midnight and daybreak. Racumin is one product that rodents have yet to outwit. For one, Racumin counters bait shyness,” Cruz added. To help you detect the presence of rats, you may want to use the brand´s Tracking Powder which is effective as both bait and tracker. Rats will lick the powder that in turn sticks to their fur and get a lethal dose while leaving marks that can help you find where they nest.
Racumin has a delayed killing action; taking effect after a couple of days so that rats would not know that it was actually the product that killed their fellow rodents. The Racumin Paste bait contains an ingredient that lessens its palatability to other pests while being practically irresistible to rodents. If you have a mice problem than a rat problem, go for the Ready-Made Bait of Denorado rice grains that takes advantage of mice's nibbling behavior and love for cereals to lure them to their demise.
But take note that rats can detect poison easily by smell and taste or through their keen observation of other rats. They simply know how to avoid danger. It is therefore advisable that you wrap your hands with plastic when touching rat poison. If they smell your hands, they'll know it's poison. Besides, it protects yourself and things that you touch afterwards. Rats also have 'preferred toilet areas.' This is where you must put your bait.
While some efforts may produce good results for a time, it is only when whole communities come together and become continuously vigilant and committed that a long-term solution becomes possible. Community involvement is vital in effectively getting rid of rats for perpetuity.
“This is the reason why we have come up with our Rat Attack campaign. Our theme this year of 'Protecting Your Family and Community' reflects our efforts to communicate that by having a rat-free city, you are actually protecting your family and community from diseases these rodents can bring,” Cruz explained.
The two-part community-based information campaign drives on the health risks caused by rat infestation and an organized rescue of these communities to help control these unwanted and hazardous vermin. Educational leaflets and Racumin products are distributed to selected communities in an effort to jumpstart rodent control in the entire metropolis.
Rats eat anything that smell of food traces; even dead rodents. They contaminate food with their saliva, urine and droppings. Once ingested, you can't easily get rid of the toxins.
“Rats are also known to bite sleeping children in their attempt to eat bits of food that have not been washed off their hands when they go to sleep,” pointed out operations manager Bubbles Santos, during separate lecture fora at the barangay gyms in Marikina, Mandaluyong and San Juan City.
Good housekeeping and sanitation are basic factors in rat control. By simply depriving these rodents of food, water and harbor that they need, you are already doing a lot to reduce their population. “When everyone does his part, it is only then that we and our families can be totally safe and free from these menacing vermin. We should all be responsible for the cleanliness of our households. With rats, we need to be more vigilant, and not let them slowly take over our homes. Commitment and vigilance against rat infestation starts with correct information and proper action and these are what we seek to impart in our RatAttack campaign,” Cruz concluded.
Ratatouille and Desperaux may be fun animation movies on rats. Add to these the endearing tales of Ben and the wacky adventures of Stuart Little. But the real truth is far from funny.


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