By Joe Kennedy
The rats and mice are back again in Ho`olehua. But never fear, we can control them or make the best of it no matter what.
Controlling or manipulating rats’ physical environment is the way to keep them away from your house. Getting to the cause or the root of the problem — understanding what they like and what they don’t like — is the way to begin solving the problem.
Rats are concerned mostly with food and cover. The cover thing is all about them wanting protection from predators along pathways that can be long and complex. They memorize these pathways and teach their young. They want to have obstacles along the way to squeeze or slip through thereby slowing down or stopping the predator chasing them. In general, keep as many objects off the floor as possible, especially around the walls. Put them up on shelves.
Heavy items such as TV, fridge, stove and washing machine should be pulled away from the wall at least four or five inches so the cat can get back there. Whether you have a cat or not, it still seems to work.
Rats also look for food, so obviously never leave a dirty kitchen overnight. Even the slightest bit of food residue can leave a smell that can attract a rat.
While cats can help control rats and mice, cats themselves can carry several serious diseases and they can also prey on beneficial and native insects and animals. It’s suggested to limit the number of cats per family. Dogs also do very well at helping to control rats.
For more information call the state Department of Health on Maui, Vector Control branch.