Mice infestation is a growing issue for the hospitality and food retail sectors says Gulliver Hill, Technical Director of PestSafe Services. But what if the conventional solution, a programme of baiting, trapping, and partial proofing, is part of the problem?

The catch is in the wording – mouse control. Conventionally, pest control specialists have referred to controlling a problem rather than eliminating it. There is an implicit acceptance that mice problems cannot always be solved.

Multiple rounds of baiting and trapping are needed to keep mouse numbers down. No one is saying that the ‘problem’ can be cured. This can become very costly for pest control clients, especially those where mice infestations are a serious regulatory and reputational risk.

A national discount retailer has been fined £1.2m for a mouse infestation in just one of its stores. Restaurant chains spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on specific treatment measures each year. This is accepted as a necessary cost. Or mice mayhem will ensue.

An Impressive Foe Mice are certainly very impressive and determined adversaries. This is one reason why they thrive so well. We just underestimated what they are capable of at our peril. Commercial clients are amazed to be told mice can squeeze through gaps as small as 4mm, jump 700mm from a standing start and climb seemingly smooth walls. So, putting food produce on a shelf is no protection.

Facilities managers think they must be coming in from the outside. When, in fact, they live inside our properties. Modern buildings, with their insulation cavities and flimsy stud walls, make perfect mice colonies.

Most rodents especially in London and the South East, are resistant to mice poison and rodenticide, so putting down bait is akin to feeding them. They have evolved behavioural traits that deal effectively with hazards like traps and poisons. The British Pest Control Association has identified these ‘Super Mice’ as one of its biggest risks of the 21st Century.

There is, however, a solution and it lies in doing something different. If you remove the food, mice die. They will never be resistant to that. This is achieved by excluding them from their habitat with comprehensive mouse proofing.

A Case In Point: Restaurant Under Siege A national restaurant chain had been experiencing a serious mouse infestation, to the point there was a serious regulatory threat. Even after traditional methods had been used, mice were still seen every day, while rats were regular visitors to the outlet’s refuse bins. Staff felt under siege.

We were called in to take a fresh look and called on the expertise of our sister company, SUPERPROOF. It focuses


“Mice can squeeze through gaps as small as 4mm, jump 700mm from a standing start and climb seemingly smooth walls.”

entirely on proofing properties against rodents, based on an intimate understanding of how they behave.

The building was relatively new, so riddled with internal mouse access points. During a week-long programme, we blocked these with specialist proofing materials. The rats had been living in a plant room, gaining access to the bins under poorly-fitted doors. The answer was to fit rodent door guards, and to refine the refuse storage and collection arrangements.

The impact was instantaneous. As soon as the proofing was done, no mice and no rats were seen again. The regulatory threat was lifted. The restaurant chain’s FM team was incredulous but delighted.

The company is now considering rolling out the proofing programme across all its outlets. Within two years, net savings from slashing conventional pest control measures could more than halve the chain’s mouse control bill.

Challenging Pest Control Convention There are, of course, practical steps restaurants and food retailers can take to reduce mice and rat infestation risks. Rigorous cleaning and waste management processes will certainly help. But as we enter the age of the Super Rodent, if you don’t want a mouse to join your guests at the restaurant table, habitat exclusion should be firmly on the menu.

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