PAU working on eco-friendly methods to control rats

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Ludhiana, Sep 9 (UNI) Scientists in Punjab Agriculture University are testing eco-friendly methods of rodent control, including herbal products and role of various bio-chemosterilants to contain rodent population.

In view of the fact that rats impart an annual loss of foodgrains that would suffice to feed around 2,000 million people, scientists in PAU are developing research-based technologies for rodent control under the ICAR-sponsored All India Net-work Project, said Dr H S Sehgal, Head, Department of Zoology, PAU.

Use of conventional rodenticides (poisons for killing rats) was an option but it should be used only when the rodent infestation is very high and when all other options fail as even non target animals are vulnerable to these poisons.

Dr Sehgal further added that chronic or anti-coagulating poisons are now considered as first choice rodenticides. On the other hand, acute rodenticides are used in situations demanding a quick reduction of high density rodent population.

Like in the case of other poisonous agro-chemicals, efforts are on to identify other eco-friendly approaches, said Dr. Sehgal.

The project, with Dr Rajinder Kaur as its Principal Investigator, would try to evolve the technique to cause sterility in male and female rats as a major component of integrated management of rodent population as rodents are known to breed fast and regain their numbers after an onslaught of traditional control methods.

Rats not only consume, but also contaminate the food with their urine, faecal matter and fur besides damaging it in other various ways. They are also responsible for transmitting a variety of diseases to humans and livestock and must be curbed effectively in a manner to cause least damage to other harmless species thriving in the fields, he said.

Dr Sehgal said that so far, three effective measures for controlling rodents can be sanitation, rat proofing and rat killing.

Environmental sanitation involving proper storage and handling of food materials and refuge, prevention of its spillage, elimination of rodent shelters and physical removal of undesirable vegetation including grasses and weeds, in the vicinity of buildings and fences often prove useful.

He suggested that household dust bins (garbage cans) should preferably be emptied at night before going to sleep as rodents step up their activities at night.

As far as rodent proofing is concerned, the experts suggest to use screens with 6 mm holes over drains. Cracks in building foundations need to be sealed and floors and foundations should be constructed with quality material resisting scratching by rodents.

The open doors, windows and crawl space vents should have screens.

Similarly, spaces beneath the doors, especially of garages and warehouses should be checked with metal stripping.

Dr Sehgal said that though trapping is the preferred method of capturing the rats for killing, it can not control infestations.

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