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Toxic baiting on demand

Published 31st August, 2017 by Neil Nixon

Toxic baiting on demand

Rentokil Pest Control has launched AutoGate, its bait box containing a smart, battery powered, gate mechanism which uses infrared sensors to monitor for the presence of rats externally. When activated by a rat, the gate opens for a defined period of time, providing access to rodenticide held within the bait box, resulting in the quick and effective control of rats in a responsible manner. It is claimed to be the first system of its kind to enable the detection and monitoring of rats outside, as well as the strategic delivery of rodenticides to aid swift control.

AutoGate is a ‘baiting on demand’ system that uses rodenticides in a planned way within bait stations. The system uses carefully calibrated sensors to ensure the gate only opens when a rat is detected. Non-target animals such as field mice, voles and invertebrates will not trigger the device and therefore will not be exposed to the rodenticide. The infrared-activated gate mechanism therefore allows Rentokil to detect rats and then safely deploy rodenticides in a responsible and effective manner outdoors, greatly reducing the risk to non-target species and the wider environment.

The existing biocide labelling laws and codes of practice surrounding rodenticide require pest controllers to know of an existing infestation. Therefore, the current methods for monitoring and managing rats outside buildings are limited to visual inspections or the placement of non-toxic placebo baits before any toxic baiting programme commences. The non-toxic inspection period would then be followed by a toxic rodenticide and environmental risk assessment to support this action. This process can leave quite a substantial period of time for the rat population to develop externally and potentially gain access to properties. Autogate not only detects rats externally but it also records the number of visits to the box. By monitoring the number of rat activations, along with bait consumption, AutoGate helps pest controllers make more informed decisions to manage rat infestations earlier and rapidly, helping to protect customers as well as the environment.

AutoGate keeps the bait separate from the outside world, meaning toxic bait is only delivered in a controlled and planned way. The gate requires three activations by rats within a seven-day period to open. AutoGate then stays open for defined period of time before closing automatically. This time can be adjusted between 0 and 30 days, depending on the environmental risks identified on specific sites. Once AutoGate closes, it goes back into ‘active sensing mode’. It will then re-open to allow bait access only when needed. AutoGate therefore facilitates the safe and effective deployment of rodenticides in high-risk and environmentally sensitive areas (for example, where children, pets or wildlife may be present).

Colm Moore, area technical manager at Rentokil Initial, said: “AutoGate provides a smart and environmentally-friendly solution for external rat control. We know that rodent infestations can have devastating consequences for a business’ reputation, and so we have designed a solution which ensures infestations can be detected, monitored and controlled earlier and far quicker, while also minimising the risk to non-target species and the environment. Rats often enter premises in search of shelter and food, and once they find these they have the potential to rapidly increase in numbers. Rodents reach sexual maturity after four to five weeks, meaning that once inside, an undetected population could swell from two rats to around 1250 in just one year. While taking simple steps such as ensuring food waste is properly sealed and stored can make a difference, it’s almost inevitable that some rodents may find their way inside a building. Consequently, it’s best to initiate pest control measures at the earliest stage possible: externally, before rodents have a chance to put businesses at risk internally.”

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