Knowledge is the strongest weapon: Controlling rodents


March 1, 2013

These days, rodent expert and Pest Management Professional (PMP) Hall of Famer, Dr. Bobby Corrigan, roams the streets of New York City looking for and controlling rodents. He recently spoke about rodent biology and behavior at the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) PestWorld conference in Boston.

“We’re still learning and know very little about rats and mice,” Corrigan said. “They’re behaviorally much more complex than we’d previously estimated.”

But one thing hasn’t changed: These animals are diabolically clever.

Corrigan outlined what pest management professionals (PMPs) need to consider when seeking to control rodents:

»Know thy enemy. “To control rodents, we shouldn’t be out in the field without a ruler in our pockets for identifying gnawing marks that denote which rodent you’re dealing with,” he said. Additionally, consider their lifespan: “Rodents live for six to 12 months, but when things are good, they can live from 12 to 15 months.”

»Rodents have a great sense of taste. “Be careful contaminating your baits,” he said. “Wear gloves, and be fanatical when handling them.”

»With their whiskers, rodents can detect things we can’t see. “Rodents can plan and decide whether they’ll go into something based on touch,” Corrigan said.

»Consider the quality of their other senses. Rodents have a great sense of hearing but poor eyesight.

»Rodents have great muscle movement. Corrigan referred to rats and mice as gymnasts.

»Sanitation is pest control. “If we keep things clean, they get stressed out and begin to kill themselves,” he said. “If we’re going to manage rodents in buildings, we need a diversified approach.”

»Bait placement is key. “If you don’t put your bait box in the right place, rodents might never use it,” he said. “If we don’t check ceilings, we’re not doing rodent control.”

»The best use of glue boards is in runways where rodents travel. Rats are capable of foraging from 90 to 450 ft. from their nest. Mice have a home range of just 10 to 30 ft., but they can go hundreds of feet. Rodents are capable of traveling as far as five miles in one night. “These animals select food for nutritional balance,” he said. “One bag of restaraunt waste can feed 1,000 rats.

“I’m out in the field a lot working with rodents and the rodent research is coming in like crazy,” Corrigan adds. “It’s a tough line we walk between making money and sticking to the science of rodent control, but don’t underestimate these animals. We go way back with them and are still trying to control them.”

Jerry Mix was editor/publisher of PMP until his retirement in 2004. Contact Mix, a member of the PMP Hall of Fame (Class of 2005), at


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Longtime Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Jerry Mix died June 15, 2021. Read more about his life and career here.

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