Bait stations are an effective way to control a rodent infestation. A tamper-resistant bait station should be sturdy enough to prevent destruction or entry by dogs and kids under 6 years old. It should have entrances that allow target rodents to access bait but deny entry to birds and larger animals and can be sealed or locked.
It should also be resistant to weakening or destruction by weather and have internal structures for minimizing spillage, containing baits, and monitoring of baits outside of the stations. The bait station should be made of colour and design not appealing to children and pets, display precautionary statements in prominent locations and can be anchored.
Some manufacturers equip bait stations with two chambers that force rats and mice to take a 90-degree turn to access the baits. This design prevents children from accessing the baits. Other manufacturers use distance or baffles.
Manufacturers use sturdy plastic to construct bait stations. Tamper resistant stations should be secured to a heavy patio stone, wall, or the floor to prevent the baits from being detached by shaking. Bait stations have heavy-duty metal covers that prevent damage by vehicle traffic, hoofed livestock, or wildlife.
You can buy bait stations from pest management suppliers, vendors of chemical and farm supplies or through the internet. Bait stations must be big enough to accommodate several rodents and let them feed at once.
If you want to make your own bait station, you should create at least two entrances on opposite sides. Rats and mice are more likely to enter bait stations if they sense an escape route.
A lot of manufactured bait stations can hold rodenticides, snap traps and glue boards. You may want to design your station to hold different rodent control tools.
Refillable Bait Stations or Disposable Bait Stations
If the rodent problem can be handled with a couple of bait block placements and you don’t want to store or touch loose bait blocks, you should use disposable stations. You only need to remove the station from the packaging and put it where you’ve noticed rodent activity.
If the rodent problem persists seasonally or throughout the year, you should go for refillable stations as it allows you to replenish the rodent bait supply in every station. Any extra bait block must be stored in areas that pets and children can’t access. Use bait blocks only with bait stations.
Proper Placement of Bait Stations
Rodents won’t visit bait stations if they’re not placed conveniently, where you noticed rodent activity. Place the bait station between their shelter and food supply.
Position the station along their travel paths, against walls and near rodent runways and burrows. Check for signs of activity such as rub marks, tracks, chew marks, and droppings to determine areas to place bait stations.
Rats are wary of unfamiliar or new objects. They may wait up to 2 weeks before approaching your bait station or ignore it altogether. Avoid using mouse-sized bait stations when dealing with rats because they can chew through the station and reveal the toxicant.
Norway rats usually travel up to 400' from their nest, so you should place the rat station 15' to 50' apart. House mice rarely travel more than 50' feet from their food source or nest, so put the station no more than 12' apart in areas of mice activity.
You might be able to attach the bait station to wall ledges in a swine confinement building. You can place bait stations along the walls in pathways where mice and rats are active or in attics. Don’t place any bait station where non-target animals such as pets and livestock can disturb them.
Be especially careful with pellet and loose grain formulations as rodents often move them to hazardous areas. These kinds of bait are easily spilled, which is a potential hazard.
Liquid baits or any kind of rodent bait is toxic to every animal in varying levels. Dogs and swine are vulnerable to anticoagulants. Vitamin K is an antidote to such products.
Placing bait stations less than 100' away from any human-made structures is illegal. Baits placed beyond 50' increases the risk to non-target animals. Don’t place stations in sites exposed to direct sunlight.
This is because the internal temperature of stations exposed to sunlight can be 20% to 30% warmer than the surrounding air and this will melt the bait block. If you need to place the station in direct sunlight, you should pick a white or gray-coloured station and use a non-paraffin-based toxicant.
How to Maintain Bait Stations
Check Bait Stations
Monitor bait stations on a regular basis to ensure a constant supply of bait. Check the station every day. Rodent feeding and population will decline after a short time. When this happens, you only need to monitor the station every 2 to 4 weeks.
Mice and rats often reject stale or spoiled food, so you have to give enough fresh bait for them to eat sufficiently. Just don’t overfill them. Clean, empty and refill the station with fresh bait when the current one becomes soiled, insect-infested, mouldy or musty.
If the bait is placed in a disposable station, get rid of the unit and its content according to the instructions on the label.
Wear Proper Safety Equipment
Always wear disposable gloves and proper safety equipment when dealing with reusable stations. Keep away from excessive cleaning because mice and rats are more likely to enter stations that contain the droppings and odour of past visitors.
If you really need to clean the station, you should throw away old bait or put it aside if it’s still fresh enough. Spray the station’s interior with 10% bleach solution or common disinfectant. Dampen droppings and allow it to dry.
Empty the station's contents into a plastic bag and discard it according to the directions on the label. Refill the bait station with fresh bait.
If you’re dealing with ants as well, you can treat the station’s interior with a liquid pyrethroid insecticide. Allow the insecticide to try before putting any toxicant in the station.
You can also sprinkle insecticide granules around and on the immediate area before putting the station back. Don’t directly treat baits with insecticide. Follow all label instructions for the product you’re using.