Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Techletter, a biweekly training letter for professional pest control technicians from Pinto & Associates. To subscribe, visit www.techletter.com.
A tamper-resistant bait station is a lockable, sturdy plastic or metal box that contains and protects bait or traps while allowing rodents to enter. It must meet eight criteria that prevent tampering or entry by nontargets, including children and pets. If your rodent bait placement is outdoors and above-ground, or if it could be reached by children or nontarget animals indoors, toxic bait must be placed in a tamper-resistant bait station. A cardboard bait box will not do. When it comes to children or nontarget animals, don’t assume that a baiting site is “inaccessible.”
Tamper-resistant bait stations have a special internal system of baffles, compartments or tunnels that walls off the bait inside the station so that it can’t be reached or shaken out. The baffles also protect the bait from moisture.
The stations must be lockable with a key or other device and they must be sturdy enough to resist crushing or breaking. Further, to be considered truly tamper-resistant, the station must be anchored and secured. It can be staked to the ground, nailed to a surface, chained or cable-tied to a fence, beam, wall, pipe, or other support. It can also be anchored by securing it to a heavy base such as a patio paver block; some stations come with an anchoring base already installed.
THE INSIDE STORY. Tamper-resistant rodent bait stations have a locking lid that opens to reveal inside compartments, often with vertical and/or horizontal rods. Multiple block baits or soft bait pouches can be threaded onto these rods which keep the bait from being carried off and keep it drier and cleaner since it is off the floor of the station. Except in Canada, soft baits can also be removed from their protective pouches and secured in a special metal basket inside the station. Stations often have a tray compartment for meal, pellet, or liquid baits. Some stations have disposable liners for easy servicing. Many bait stations have a compartment designed to securely hold a snap trap or glue board.
Tamper-resistant rodent bait stations come in many sizes and shapes, but all must meet the safety criteria mentioned previously. There are low-profile stations designed to more easily slide under pallets, appliances, and into other tight spaces. Some stations have a triangular shape to also fit into corners, others are designed to look like rocks or electrical boxes for placement in sensitive sites in public places. Some have a clear plastic top for easy bait inspection or to reveal resident snakes or spiders.
Tamper-resistant bait stations are used most often to bait for rats outside at commercial sites, or in warehouses and similar indoor sites. Large rat bait stations can accommodate up to six rats and can hold one pound (450 g) of bait, or a pint (475 ml) of liquid bait, and a large rat trap. Smaller mouse bait stations also are available and some stations can be used for either mice or rats, although there is some thought that mice might be more reluctant to enter rat bait stations because of the larger, “less cozy” opening.
KEY ADVANTAGES. The main reason that we use tamper-resistant bait stations is to protect children and nontargets from toxic bait. There are also many other good reasons for using bait stations on a regular basis:
- Bait stations protect the bait or trap from the elements, keeping it free of moisture and dirt or dust.
- Bait stations keep rodent snap traps or glue boards away from children or nontarget animals.
- Bait stations can be used to monitor rodent activity when nontoxic block baits are used instead.
- Bait stations prevent accidental spillage and product contamination when used in food facilities.
- Bait stations can save your company money because bait stays in place and remains palatable longer.
- Bait stations entice rodents, especially mice, to enter the dark, enclosed space where they feel protected.
- Bait stations that are anchored help prevent theft or relocation of your equipment.
- Bait stations provide a place for you to display company information such as contact phone numbers, product information, special warnings or instructions.
PLACEMENT TIPS. Indoors, place bait stations as you would rodent traps: along runways leading to a food source, next to walls, behind objects, in corners, and where there are rodent signs. Place the long side of the station (without entrances) flush against the wall with openings facing out. For roof rats, also secure bait stations to higher runways such as pipes, beams, or ledges. For rats, place bait stations every 15-30 feet (4.5-9 m) apart, depending on pest levels; for mice, every 8-12 feet (2.8-4 m).
Overlooking stations with bait could make the rodents wary; follow label directions. It may take days for shy rats to enter newly placed stations. Be patient. Check bait stations and replace bait according to label and manufacturer’s directions.
The authors are well-known industry consultants and co-owners of Pinto & Associates, publishers of Techletter, a biweekly training aid for PMPs. To download a sample issue or subscribe, visit www.Techletter.com.