The reality of malls and rats

Source: The Straits Time (link here)

More shopping malls seek help to fix rodent problem

By Sue-Ann Tan (mailto:suetan@sph.com.sg)

More shopping malls are approaching pest control companies for help in managing their rat problem.
While the number of rats in malls is not thought to be increasing, pest control firms said there is greater
awareness of how pests can affect a mall’s business.

Mr Winston Baptista, director of pest control company Origin Exterminators, said that in the last two years the number of malls seeking its help has jumped by more than 10 per cent.

Ms Nicole Zycinski-Singh, managing director of Killem Pest, said she has seen a 15 per cent increase in the number of malls asking for pest control measures.

Dr Tan Guan Hong, technology partner of Pestech, said: “Malls do have methods of trapping rats, but perhaps existing methods are not effective. Just setting more traps does not help.”

He added that it is not just individual tenants who should get help from pest control firms, but entire malls. “Rats don’t obey human territories. They run from one shop to another. The whole mall needs to have a pest control system.”

A spokesman for Rentokil said the public is more conscious of the problem. “Our customers are also aware of the serious diseases that (rats) transmit and sightings of rodents in the mall premises can potentially cause a negative brand image for the malls,” added the spokesman.

In 2015, after a dead rat was found in a vegetable dish at a hotpot restaurant in Marina Square, business at other eateries suffered. At least five eateries at the mall closed down in the aftermath, owing to a lack of customers.

Pestech’s Dr Tan added that the greater awareness might also stem from the use of social media.
“When someone sees a rat now, they can just take a photo and put it on social media, where tens of thousands can see it. Everybody will know and it will be very hard for the mall to recover,” he said.

Malls usually have problems because of their food and beverage outlets, false ceilings and proximity to construction sites or MRT stations, pest control companies said.

To tackle the problem, the pest controllers are using technology to better understand rats. Killem Pest and Rentokil are using traps that are connected to Wi-Fi so they can monitor the traps round the clock, as well as get real-time updates once rodent activity is detected.

Origin Exterminators is also using sensors that can generate heat maps when there are rodent activities, allowing it to be proactive in trapping the rats.

Mr Baptista added: “We set traps according to data. Indiscriminate placement and excessive use of traps will result in trap shyness and avoidance. Rodents are intelligent and we need to respect this.”

“We also need to address the issue before the rodent population explodes.”

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