* Rodents = A Big Problem Globally *
| Rodent pests, particularly rats, pose a significant field and
stores problem in many of the world's crop-growing areas. Based
on his extensive experience with a variety of approaches to pest
control and management strategies, K. Gallagher--a staff member
of the Global IPM Facility at FAO, Rome--recently described some
general principles that seem to be common across the programs of
farmer groups attempting to cope with rat control, whether in
Asia, Africa, or elsewhere,. Dr. Gallagher has generously agreed
to share his interesting observations with IPMnet NEWS readers.
1. "Know thy enemy" seems to be very important. Farmer groups study
the characteristics of rats--longevity, fecundity, bait shyness,
swimming ability, nest structure, local migration/movement trails,
population levels with trap and release, teeth configuration, etc.
This helps to demystify [the pest] and to make control plans easier.
Apparently, different species have different bait preferences in-
cluding taste, texture, and size of bait (e.g large blocks vs.
2. "Know thy territory" is another principle that comes with community
mapping and marking of preferred living sites and movement. This
practice should be conducted during various seasons as food resources
and habitat change over the year.
3. "Prepare thy arsenal" with testing of traps, baits, digging, smok-
ing, and barriers for fields and storage bins. This technical part
seems to be where many programs begin, but it is only one aspect. One
program in Sumatra developed a program called "One Million Traps" and
communities literally made one million traps in the area! Be prepared
to modify habitat to reduce nesting sites.
4. "Be smarter than the rats themselves" which is not easy! At least
we people have organizational structures. Getting organized into
"rat patrols" to prepare village sub-units to monitor, trap, bait, and
dig holes on a regular long-term basis is important. Maintaining vil-
lage records, maps, and reporting are part of the rat patrol job. One
village person should be the "King Rat" (or some other socially ap-
propriate name). Prepare a "Rat Manual" in the village for future
reference on how it was all done for reference when rats emerge as a
problem once again.
These emerge as common points. The key to successful programs
seems to be "prolonged organization." Rat campaigns give temporary
relief, but rats spring back. Eradication is useless unless you live
on an island. High tech, low tech, appropriate tech, and other techs
are all ineffective without sustained action over time.
FMI: K. Gallagher, Global IPM Facility, FAO, Rome, ITALY.
--excerpted from: Afrik-IPM Discussion List;
e-mail: <AFRIK-IPM@LISTSERV.VT.EDU>. <#>
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