Thanks to cuts in federal funding for rodent control twenty years ago, rats are making resurgence in all urban areas across the United States. Cuts in state and city budgets have further exacerbated the problem as structured programs have been replaced by complaint-oriented actions which have little overall impact on the problem.
Those experiencing rat and rodent infestations in their homes and neighborhoods are increasingly having to turn to do-it-yourself measures, or availing themselves of the services of rat extermination companies. As a result, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, job growth within the pest control industry is booming, with an expected 26% increase between 2010 and 2020. This is contrasted against an expected employment projection of 14% in all occupations making extermination services the fastest growing industry in the United States.
Rat control experts may work for a general pest control service or for dedicated rat extermination companies. Rat exterminators control, manage and remove rats in homes, businesses and their surrounding areas.
The duties of a rodent exterminator may include:
Inspection of structures and the surrounding area for signs of infestation
Determination of the type of action needed to control or remove the rodents from the area.
Measure the area needing treatment
Estimate the cost of a treatment plan based on available options.
Advising owners of structural alterations to buildings or landscaping adjustments needed to reduce attractiveness of the property to rat populations.
Conduct the treatment by setting bait or traps or administering rat poisons.
Formulate and carry through ongoing management plans to prevent/control future infestations.
The average rat control expert is a high school graduate who has received on-the-job training from an established pest control service. No previous work experience in a related industry is required, terms of training usually last 3-4 months.
In 2010, an estimated 68,400 pest control workers were employed in the industry; this figure includes all pest control workers regardless of specialties such as professional rat extermination. Determining the actual number of rat control experts and rat extermination companies in the US is difficult, because these services are so often folded into the more general pest control industry and multiple specialties are not uncommon.
Rat exterminators, like other pest control experts often advance from technician to supervisor; some move on to open their own pest/rat control businesses.
Many famous pest control companies offer professional rat extermination services.
Terminix, though better known for termite control does offer a pest control plan which includes rodents.
Orkin includes control and extermination services for roof rats, Norway rats, cotton rats as well as deer mice and house mice.
Bioguard, which has recently exclusively embraced environmentally friendly pest control procedures, includes rodents among their pest library.
Truly Nolen uses a mouse in their logo and is famous for the mouse cars which provide mobile advertising for the company. Rodent control is one of the mainstays of the company.
Presto-X offers rat and mice control/extermination services as part of their comprehensive Year Round Plan.
IMPORTANT: If you have a well known pest control company which provides rat control services all across United States, please email us and well include it in the above list with a link to your main website.
Rat extermination workers must be licensed by the state in which the business operates. Requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but at minimum usually require completing training and passing an exam. Other requirements may include completing an apprenticeship or passing a background check. Because professional rat exterminators are required to conduct on-site inspections and treatments of infested properties, a drivers license and a clean driving record are also generally required.
Required general job skills include the ability to keep detailed records of actions taken; good bookkeeping skills for estimating cost of services, issuance of bills and collection of payment.
Rat control experts must have good customer service skills, be able to behave in a polite professional manner when dealing with clients who may be agitated by the very idea of having a rodent problem. They should be able to clearly communicate the details of the problem and the action to be taken, both verbally and in writing.
Rat control experts need to possess physical strength, good mobility and stamina as duties require long periods of standing, kneeling, crouching and crawling.
Above all, rat exterminators must be extremely detail oriented, following established procedures to the letter for the safety of the environment, the health of their customers, and clients pets especially in the administration of poisonous substances. They must be able to abide by state and federal laws governing the use of baits, traps and poisons.
In general there are two major methods of rat control and extermination: trapping and rodenticides aka rat poisons.
Trapping has become the preferred method of dealing with rat infestations especially in residential structures. Traps kill quickly and directly and contain the carcass of the animal in the location they have been placed.
Traps may be baited, or unbaited. Baited traps have proven effective for the two major pest rat species, roof rats and Norway rats. There are a number of trap designs presently available, some of which kill the animal outright, others which capture the rodents alive. In the latter case the rat must be humanely killed and not merely released due to disease transmission risks.
Rodenticides have several drawbacks, the most often cited being that a poisoned rat will often crawl away and into confined inaccessible spaces to die This creates a secondary problem, decomposition of the rodent body leads to pervasive odors that can haunt a location for months.
Rat poisons are also toxic to pet animals, non pest wildlife and most tragically, children.
The most effective rat poisons are anti-coagulants (Warfarin for example) which cause internal hemorrhaging. There are also non-anticoagulant rodenticides (zinc phosphide, cholecalciferol vitamin D3, and bromethalin). Some rat populations have been found to be resistant to the anti-coagulants; these three alternate rodenticides are effective on those populations.
Whichever method is employed, it is imperative that effort be devoted to rat proofing a structure and the surrounding landscaping. This means closing off areas of access in roof eaves and house foundations; replacing wooden floors and subfloors in basements with poured concrete. Pet food should not be left outside, standing water sources (also a danger for West Nile infested mosquito infestation) eliminated; bird feeder spillage controlled or eliminated; and keeping yards free of overgrowth, wood piles and other attractive nesting sites.
Do It Yourself or Call in a Professional? Should the average home owner attempt a do-it-yourself solution to their rat infestation problem? The cost of rat control from professional rat exterminators may be considered too expensive at first glance, making DIY more attractive. However economical investing in traps and poisons may seem there are other considerations that affect the analysis of cost.
Any pest control effort requires an investment of time and energy which many in our busy modern world do not have to devote to the effort.
There are also hidden expenses to the DIY route that are not immediately apparent. This is especially true if the home owner is ignorant of rat behavior and biology, or unwilling to research these topics before undertaking an extermination effort.
When it comes to rat extermination, exposure to diseases carried by the animals is a real risk to health and safety. Use of rodenticides requires not only following label directions, but taking steps to protect the homeowner, his family and family pets from accidental exposure to the toxicants.
Using a professional rat exterminator carries a price tag which may not be inexpensive, but it should be remembered that hiring a rat extermination company buys the services of a licensed, insured rodent control expert with tested knowledge of traps and rodenticides. In case of the deployment of poisons, the rat control expert has been trained specifically to handle the toxic substances expertly and responsibly.
Most rodent control services from pest control businesses are part of a comprehensive pest control plan. Very few areas in the United States can boast only one pest problem; when considered as one stop shopping for termite, ant, wasp, mosquito and other pest species, the money being spent on rat control becomes a bargain.
Rat exterminator prices are dependent on a number of variables, so the answer to this question is not a quick and easy one. Factors influencing the cost of rat extermination include:
How severe is the infestation? A severe infestation will require more and sometimes different types of traps than a minor rat invasion.
How much rat proofing is required before extermination can begin? If a large number of areas need to be sealed, it will of course impact the bottom line; if fewer, the cost will be less.
What kind of and how much waste disposal is needed? Removal of rat nesting materials, feces, rat remains, and other debris is a given in prevention of future infestations. If a property has a large yard that must be cleared and cleaned, an attic where insulation must be removed and replaced property where timber must be cleared, extra manpower and debris removal from the property will add to cost.
Location of the nest: inside or out? This determines the type of trap to be used as well as the number needed.
One time reactive service or ongoing monitoring? If you want to prevent a reoccurrence of an infestation, monitoring of the problem will cost more over the long term than a one shot extermination effort. However in terms of prevention of damage to property and lowered risk of disease transmission, the cost of a follow up plan is often shown to be more cost effective.
Given the variables it would be impossible to give one answer to the question of the cost of rat extermination. It is recommended that before making a decision about hiring a professional exterminator, a potential customer do some comparison shopping among the available services in their geographic location. National pest control companies often advertise discounts and dollar amounts off their services to attract new business; local exterminators with less overhead than the big companies may be able to offer a better deal.
It is also a good idea to check with review sites like Yelp.com and others to get an idea of the reputation of the companies under consideration among users of their services. The cheapest choice may not always be the best choice!
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