Rats and Bait Stations
An article entitled “Foraging behavior of wild rats (Rattus norvegicus) towards new foods and bait containers” published in the May 96 edition of Applied Animal Behavior revealed some interesting characteristics of rodent neophobic behavior that should interest those wanting to control rats.
Rats and Neophobia
We have all heard of how rats are considered neophobic, meaning they avoid new things. Well the truth about that behavior is a little more complex than that. Rats actually are quite curious about objects when they are in a new area or when constantly exposed to a changing environment (e.g. a dump).
New Items NOT New Food
The neophobia is most pronounced when a new object is placed in an environment familiar to them. The researchers found that rats are not afraid of new foods, they are afraid of new objects placed in their familiar environment. So using bait stations can reduce the attractiveness of baits to rats because they fear this new object. The researchers suggested that in situations where control is expected to be reinstated some time in the future, service professionals should leave the stations so they become part of the rats’ familiar environment. Better yet, provide non-toxic bait on occasion to keep the rats interested in the box. That way, when control needs to be reinstated, the neophobic elements of the station will be eliminated.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at stephenvantassel at Hotmail dot com.
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