Rats might be disgusting, but they are smart creatures. They have to be in order to survive, and their intelligence usually shines through when we try to get an infestation under control. Let’s take a look at how rat intelligence comes into play during a control effort and the techniques that can be used to counteract it.
All rats have an innate instinct known as neophobia, which means that they are afraid of anything new in their environment, even if that new thing is food. Neophobic behavior is part of their survival strategies, because rats are targeted as soon as they leave the safety of their burrows. To survive this, they have tried and tested pathways that they can use quickly and become familiar with over time. If one of these pathways is slightly disturbed, that means that something dangerous may be in the area.
At first, any change increases the cautiousness of the rat, but over time, the rat becomes re-habituated to the new changes in the environment, and it can resume its regular behavior. Neophobia stays with the rat once it enters the home, which means that it will likely ignore any source of food that it is not already familiar with.
To counteract this, you can use a few techniques. For one, neophobia is strong in rats, but their hunger is stronger, so you can sidestep their instincts by hiding all the food in the home or making sure that it is out of reach. As the rats get hungrier and hungrier, they will go for the bait in your trap or poison. You can also go with “gourmet” food when you bait the trap. Fresh meat, fish, shrimp or even peanut butter can be extremely attractive to rats, so they may take the risk and go for the food, despite their better instincts. Other methods involve habituating the rat to the traps or baits in the area, by not arming the trap and not lacing the bait with poison.
Working with a pro
Neophobia is one of the reasons why removing a rat infestation effectively is so hard, and why you will often need the help of a pro to get an infestation under control. If you have a rat infestation in your home, and you want to make sure that it is thoroughly controlled, contact us today and we will help you out.