June 21, 2021
Safe and Effective Control of Rodents
Rats and mice are part of living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and are a vital component of our local ecosystem, providing critical food for bobcats, snakes, and birds of prey (eagles, hawks, and owls). With that said, there are certain situations when rodent prevention and control is necessary. It is also important to understand that rodent populations tend to peak during this time of year (early-mid spring).
Provided below is helpful information on the rodents found on Kiawah and simple and effective steps for identifying and mitigating rodent issues.
The Good Guys
Hispid cotton rats are very common on Kiawah and typically inhabit marsh edges and other areas of low vegetation and rarely if ever, enter or cause damage to residences. They are a native rodent species and are a critical food source for Kiawah’s wildlife (bobcats, birds of prey, and snakes). In general, rodent populations tend to peak during this time of year (early-mid spring).
The Bad Guys
The primary rodent species that causes issues on Kiawah is the roof rat, a non-native rodent species that spends a lot of time in trees. Roof rats can be identified by their elongated and darker-colored bodies, pointy snouts, and tails longer than their body length. Cotton rats, in comparison, are smaller, more compact, have mottled fur, and their tails are shorter than their body length.
Since every structure is different, rodent issues should be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the property owner, property manager, or pest management company. Listed below are control strategies and methods that are highly effective and safe for Kiawah’s bobcats and other wildlife.
Follow Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for rodent control. The steps of IPM are as follows:
1. Identify specific rodent problems and locations by doing a thorough survey of the property. Only take action if a problem exists. Seeing a rodent in your yard is not a rodent problem.
2. Exclusion (sealing exterior holes and cracks) is the most effective strategy for eliminating existing and future rodent issues and protects your home from other problems associated with structure exposure. All exterior holes, cracks, or gaps larger than a ½ inch should be sealed using either hardware cloth, stainless steel wool or expanding foam products. If you cannot do this yourself, there are exclusion service providers who specialize in evaluating structure entry points and perform sealing services.
3. Use non-chemical methods of rodent control (eliminate food/water sources, use traps).
4. As a last resort, pesticides can be used for significant infestations inside structures but should only be applied for a short time (typically ten days) and then stopped once the problem is resolved. Use only pesticides containing the active ingredients bromethalin or cholecalciferol. These two pesticides are just as effective as second-generation anticoagulants (SGAs) and have significantly lower negative secondary impacts on Kiawah’s wildlife. Learn more at www.savekiawahbobcats.com
Check out our new informational materials regarding SGAs and bobcat’s habitat needs: