How To Keep Your Restaurant Rat Free – Getting Rid of Rats and Mice

A pest infestation in a restaurant can be the biggest nightmare. Especially when it comes to rats or mice. They can be destructive and can be the root cause of additional pest problems. Rats pose a substantial problem to your business. They are a health hazard and they can tarnish your name and drive away your clients. This can lead to huge losses for the restaurant. Rats are some of the most common pests you can find in a restaurant and one one the least tolerated pests by any food safety inspector in Toronto. It is very important for a food business to carry out pest control services. Here are some ways on how to keep your restaurant rat-free. Keep in mind that a rat problem can be difficult to take care of. Leave it to the professionals. We offer customized commercial pest control programs catered to your needs. So what can you do to get rid of rats in a restaurant? – Hire the Exterminators.

Mouse and Rat Problem in a Restaurant

Many restaurant owners and staff don’t completely understand the serious risks associated with having mice and rats in the restaurant. Some are lax to get rid of the intruders especially if they are not making their way to the dining room or where they are visible by customers. There is no such thing as a small rodent problem. Spotting even a single rodent should cause you to take immediate action the least of which is a thorough inspection and investigation of the extent of the infestation.

Common Diseases Spread By Rats and Mice

Rodents, in general, are feared for their potential to spread diseases. Since these critters run amok in the environment they occupy, you can safely assume that most surfaces in your restaurant are potentially contaminated with microscopic disease-causing pathogens.

The urgency to get rid of the rodents isn’t just because they are unsightly and scare customers. There are real and serious health concerns with these kinds of invasions, some of which could potentially be fatal. Common diseases spread by rats and mice include;

Salmonellosis: This bacterium is spread by both rats and mice and mostly contracted by consuming food or water contaminated by rat feces. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and chills.

Plague: This bacterial disease is still alive and well since the Middle Ages although far from being an epidemic. Still, cases of plague aren’t completely unheard-of and are typically spread by coming into direct contact with an infected rodent or bites from infected fleas common with rodents. Plague is still potentially fatal.

Rat Bite Fever: Despite its name, this disease is spread by both rats and mice. The bacteria spread by consuming food or water contaminated by rodent feces, scratch or bite from infected rodent or by contact with infected rodent corpse. RBF is potentially fatal if not treated.

It is for these reasons that public health inspectors are severe especially with acute rodent problems in restaurants in Toronto.

Common Types of Rats in Toronto

do all restaurants have mice

There are two common types of rats in Toronto, the first one called sewer rats and the second one is brown rats. These are rats that cause the most issues to restaurant owners in Toronto.

What is a Sewer Rat?

Sewer rats are also known as Norwegian sewer rats, although they did not originate in Norway. When looking at the sewer rat, you will see that it is nothing more than a standard brown rat. They are different from the black rat in that they have a sturdy build. They also have a slanted face that features small, beady eyes that are either black or ruby red in colour.

Unlike black rats, which have long tails, sewer rats have somewhat shorter tails. You will notice that the rat has short, thick fur. Typically, the average size of the rodent is between 15 and 18 cm long. However, they can grow larger, with some people measuring them up to 25 cm in length. As a side note, in 2014, the largest sewer rat ever recorded was 40 cm long.

Behaviour and Habits

Sewer rats have certain behaviours and habits that make it easier for them to survive and invade your homes and businesses. For starters, they are champion swimmers. Most animals run out of stamina, which makes it impossible for them to swim too far or too long. Rats, however, can swim up to a mile and have the ability to tread water for up to three days.

The pipes that connect your plumbing to the sewer system may seem too small for a sewer rat, but do not let that fool you. The sewer rat has a hinged rib cage that can almost flatten down so that it can squeeze into tiny spaces. If their head can fit, the rest of their body can, too. Therefore, it is entirely possible for a rat to navigate through your pipes and into your home.

Rats are scavengers. However, they do not have a high tolerance for hunger. They need to eat and stay hydrated or they will move on to a new location. If you think keeping food particles cleaned up and water wiped out of your sinks is enough, think again. Many people make the mistake of flushing food particles down the toilet, which attracts rats to your home.

Also, as disturbing as it might sound, feces contain food particles, and a rat is not averse to the idea of receiving their food that way. In fact, coprophagy, or the act of eating the feces of another species, is why rats are so successful at survival. They will do anything they can to make sure they have plenty of food so they can thrive.

What You Need to Know About a Brown Rat

The mere sight of a rat usually leads to ear-piercing shrieks and feelings of disgust. Finding a rat in your home can cause even more feeling of panic and horror. Unfortunately, there are many people who suffer from rat infestations throughout Canada, particularly Toronto. Brown rats are among one of the most common rats that invade people’s homes and businesses.

Despite the fact that they are a nuisance, they are also rather interesting creatures. Understanding everything there is to know about brown rats can help you out, too. Knowledge of brown rats can help you understand what it is that attracts them and how they behave. With knowledge comes the power to figure out how to put an end to a rat invasion.

Brown Rat Facts

There are very interesting facts about rats. Some of the facts may seem like information you already know, but there are also plenty of pretty surprising facts, too.

Origination

Rats originated in Australia and Asia, but now currently live throughout the world. There is hardly anywhere that you can go where you will not find a rat. Over the years, rats learned to adapt so they could survive their surroundings. Once they found their way to other parts of the world, they had to learn to adapt so they could continue to thrive.

Appearance

The brown rat, also sometimes called the Norwegian brown rat or sewer rat, has short, thick brown fur, hence the name “brown” rat. They have small, beady eyes that are usually black or ruby red in color that sits within their slanted face. In comparison to black rats, the brown rat has a relatively short tail. Typically, brown rats grow between 15 and 18 cm long, though it can grow up to 25 cm and longer.

Reproduction

Brown rats have the ability to reproduce several times a year, which is why it is possible for their population to grow wildly out of control. A wild rat typically only lives between 10 and 14 months, but they can live for as long as three years. In that time, a female rat can breed between 5 and 7 times, and each litter can contain anywhere from six to a dozen babies.

Survivability

Rats are survivors. The brown rat will often enter homes through sewer systems. They use the sewer systems to access plumbing pipes, which they then use to swim up into a home using the pipes of a toilet. Rats can tread water for up to three days and swim approximately a mile before feeling fatigued.

Although you can attempt to keep food cleaned up and put away, that is not enough to deter the brown rat. There is a reason brown rats often live in sewers and enter homes through toilets. They can find an amazing food source in the sewers. There are plenty of people who flush food scraps down the toilet.

If food scraps run low, rats survive using coprophagy, which is the practice of eating the feces of another species. Feces contains food particles, so a rat is not beyond scavenging those food particles out of human feces if necessary. A rat will literally do near anything to ensure its own survival.

Do All Restaurants Have Mice or Rats?

We deal with more and rat problems every year. Toronto is home to a growing rat population and an increasing number of restaurants become affected year by year. Most restaurants are located in high traffic areas and near subway lines areas that are already harbouring increasing numbers of rats. Having pests in a restaurant is something most restaurateurs will, unfortunately, have to experience at one point or another. Problems start occurring when nothing is done about it. As licensed exterminators we have the know-how, the tools, products and expertise to help you completely get rid of rats.

Inspection

It is the first step in determining if your restaurant has been infested with any pests. The first inspection will determine what we are dealing with. Then regular inspections will ensure we are aware of what is going on so that we can kill rats before they increase in numbers. We advise our customers to keep an eye out for signs such as droppings. We conduct regular inspections for all our restaurant customers and monitor activity and populations. We inspect holes and cracks as they are a possible shelter for rats.

Interior Rat Trapping

Rodent traps are the best to use since rat poison is not suitable for use in restaurants or in any other food preparation facility. Traps are placed strategically to maximize kill rates. We change and clean the traps in every weekly, bi-weekly or monthly pest control visit. Rats are notoriously fearful of changes in their immediate environment. If you are a restaurant owner attempting to control pests on your own do not use poison indoors. The reason being that traces of rodenticide can come in contact with equipment or food itself resulting in serious contamination issues. In addition, using poison inside can lead to problems with rats dying in wall voids or in areas that are not easily accessible resulting in further problems with contamination and smell. Rats are notoriously wary of changes in their environment. In the video below you can see a rat noticing and avoiding the baited trap. Changing and removing and adding traps on a regular basis is necessary to reduce a rat population.

How To Get Rid of Mice in a Restaurant

If it is mice and not rats, it doesn’t make dealing with the problem any better. While you should expect far less damage when dealing with mice they do pose a serious health hazard. Mice reproduce fast so a very small problem can turn into a serious infestation in no time. Many restaurants in Toronto are along the subway line or along busy streets. That means that they are often housed in century-old structures with many potential entry points. Add to that most structures on main streets are attached and over the years rodents like rats and mice have created highways to travel from one structure to another. With back and front doors opening often that adds to the problem. Given that no rat or mouse poison is permitted in a restaurant mechanical traps are the only way to deal with the problem. Aside from the traditional snap traps, there are other more efficient ways to trap mice. Tin Cats or rectangular box mouse traps can capture many mice at a time. Regular maintenance from a pest control technician guarantees that no mice remain in the traps for too long.

How To Get Rid of Mice in a Restaurant

There are many suggested DIY rodent control methods for people who want to save money or don’t want to go through the hustle of hiring a licensed exterminator. Remember that you can’t use rodenticides and poisons in your restaurant or anywhere food is handled for the obvious risk of contaminating the food. Common DIY rat and mice control methods include;

1. Natural Repellents

There are many suggested natural repellents including peppermint, mothballs, ammonia and cayenne pepper among others. The truth is there is no such thing as a natural rodent repellent. Otherwise, pest control companies would be out of business or wouldn’t spend loads of money investing in equipment and training. Ammonia and mothballs and other supposed repellents of this kind could easily contaminate your food.

2. Ultrasonic Rodent Repeller

Ultrasonic devices for repelling rodents emit sound waves that are not perceptible by the human ear but irritate rats and mice. These devices actually seem to work but often only temporarily. Rodents generally are very suspicious of unfamiliar, novel or new activity in their environment. The change in environment may be what is keeping the rodents away initially rather than the actual sound waves. They will eventually get used to it either by ignoring the area or growing accustomed to the devices’ presence and the accompanying noise. Many scientists would also agree that frequencies that could disrupt rat or mice activity permanently could equally disrupt humans and pets.

3. Traps

Traps and specifically traditional snap traps are the only viable solution to getting rid of mice and rats. These, of course, go hand in hand with sanitation, sealing entry points and other measures recorded here. Live traps are not as humane as they are lauded to be. Watching a trapped or stuck mouse attempting to free itself and eventually dying from exhaustion, dehydration or starvation is a gut-wrenching and potentially traumatizing site even for the most vicious rodent haters.

You can increase your success rate by using the right number and type of traps, best bait for the situation and correct trap placement. Most DIY trappings fail not because this is not an effective method but rather because most people don’t understand the nuances and patience that goes behind successful rodent trapping.

4. Exterior Bait Stations

Rodenticide should never be used inside a food processing facility. It should only be used on the exterior of the structure and only in accordance to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment guidelines. It should be the appropriate product labelled for exterior use and it should only be placed in secured tamper-resistant containers. Only mice and rats should be able to get to the poison. Common areas for rat bait stations are near exterior garbage disposal areas. As licensed exterminators, we have access to products that are safe and very effective.

5. Exclusion – Sealing Entry Points

This is the most effective way to get rid of rats. Seal up all points of entry to prevent rats from entering your restaurant. Inspect exterior and interior walls and roofs for cracks or holes. All openings should be covered to prevent rats from getting inside your restaurant. While keeping the structure sealed all the time is practically impossible for a restaurant as there is continuous traffic, inspections should be conducted on a regular basis to minimize the possibility of getting pests entering. As licensed exterminators, we know exactly what to look for when inspecting a restaurant for rats.

There are a few things you can do to help get rid rats from your restaurant aside from hiring a professional exterminator

6. Proper Sanitation

Grease, food scraps and garbage attract rats. Unsanitary conditions will lead to pest problems. Keeping things clean is imperative to minimize any pest problem. As a restauranteur or manager, you should have staff conduct thorough cleaning of every surface in the facility. In every restaurant it is important to clean floors, sinks, kitchen surfaces, garbage bins regularly.

7. Seal Food in Containers

All types of food whether cooked, uncooked, leftovers should not be left out in the open. Sealing food in containers will limit the attractants in an area. Also, you will ensure that there is no contamination from pests. Rats can spread very serious diseases through their urine and feces. It is therefore important to keep all food in closed containers.

8. Reduce Clutter

More clutter means more hiding places for rats. When items become piled up, they provide places for rats to hide. 11 is therefore important to organize your supplies and tools.

Some Ways to Keep Rats Out of Your Restaurant

rat in restaurant kitchen
rat in a restaurant kitchen

It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out why rats are attracted to restaurants. There is plenty of food, water and dark, cozy and safe places to hide and breed. The problems associated with rats in a restaurant are obvious including potential food poisoning, loss of business and potential fines and closure by the local public health department.

Rats breed quickly and there is no such thing as a small rat infestation. If you physically spot a rat, you can be sure that there are more of these rodents hiding out if sight. Spotting rat activity is actually a sign of a larger infestation.

The best thing you can do for your restaurant is to take precautionary measures. You will have to call in an exterminator for an existing rat problem. Restaurants are required to hire professionals to deal with pest infestation. You should not attempt to handle or exterminate rats or other rodents without the perquisite licensing. Tips for keeping rats out of your restaurant include;

Inspect

An inspection is necessary to assess the extent of the rat problem and to formulate the proper rat extermination strategy. Successful extermination tends to be situation-based where the actual methods used depend on the type and size of the infestation. Some of the notorious rat hiding places in restaurants include inside floor voids, ceilings and floors, in stored produce areas, under and behind kitchen appliances and in cluttered rooms such as backrooms and offices. Get a professional to perform the inspection to make sure that you catch all the potential problem areas as rat activity is not strictly confined to these common areas.

Rat-Proof the Restaurant

Most rats only need a gap or hole ¼ inch in size to fit through. These rodents have strong teeth and dexterous paws that they can use to expand smaller holes or to break in through weak spots. Seal all potential entry points with galvanized steel mesh or metal flashing and make the necessary repairs if needed including sealing cracks and gaps around utility lines.

This exercise also extends to the exterior of the restaurant. The idea is to discourage rats from attempting to enter the building in the first place. Tidy the lawn including trimming branches close to the structure and mowing tall grass and removing weeds. Remove all clutter including wood piles and cardboard where the vermin can hide.

Secure the Trash

Rats are able scavengers and will happily eat from your food scraps and trash if no other food is available. Use heavy-duty plastic or metal trash cans that rats can’t gnaw through and secure the lid tightly when not in use. Empty the trash as often as possible and keep the garbage bins well away from the restaurant entrances. Clean the exterior of the trash cans as often as is reasonable to prevent the smell from attracting rats that may be foraging in the vicinity.

Keep Food and Water in Check

It is impossible to remove all possible food and water sources in the restaurant but you can manage your kitchen to discourage rats from infesting. Keep food tightly sealed in rodent-proof containers when not in use and keep the kitchen and dining areas as clean as possible. Wipe spills and food scraps and crumbs as soon as they fall to the ground and avoid leaving dirty dishes overnight.

Monthly Rat Control Programs

rat infestation in Toronto is very serious
rat infestation in Toronto is very serious

If you have rats in your restaurant you are putting the health of your customers at risk. You are also risking your business. Rats are one of the worsts pests to have in a food processing facility. While getting rid of them can seem like an ordeal, it is a straightforward process for an experienced exterminator. The Exterminators Inc. offers commercial rat control Toronto solutions for restaurants. Please call us for more information. Call: 647-496-2211. We also offer to do it yourself products below.

Hire an Exterminator to Get Rid of Rats and Mice in Restaurant

There really is no getting around hiring a licensed exterminator if you are serious about getting rid of your rodent problem once and for all. Assuming that you are successful in getting rid of the rats, you also need to make sure they don’t come back. Sealing entry points is a tedious job that requires attention to detail and knowledge of common and even uncommon rodent entry points. We have encountered a mouse the size of an adult man’s fist scamper through a perfectly functional metal wall vent grill without even pausing. Some of the holes these critters get through are impossibly small.

You also need to clean up after successful rodent removal. Rodent nest, feces and urine left behind and contaminated surfaces are minefields ground for disease and infection. Cleaning safely and thoroughly is a delicate process best left to a professional. If you must do this on your own, make sure you wear gloves and face mask and use commercial-grade disinfectant.

Our exterminators in Toronto remove the rats and mice quickly and efficiently, seal your restaurant to ensure they don’t come back, advise specific measures you should take to prevent future infestation and clean and disinfect after the successful removal.

Article Updated:  November 16th, 2018

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Joe The Exterminator
Joe The Exterminator

Joe is a professional pest control exterminator with over 15 years of experience and enjoys sharing his knowledge about different pests and how you can deal with them.