iconUnusual Pest Challenges (Freezer Rats)

Ever had to treat rats in a cold store – temperature below zero?  How can rats survive in such cold conditions?  Or a milk depot where they sample only custard and chocolate milk – where the product from the chewed carton spews out over others making them unsaleable.


1Rats living in cold stores develop long thick coats.  But why are they harder to treat?  Baiting is less effective – rats rely on smell rather than sight to find food.  Odours are less volatile in cold conditions so baits and attractants on snap traps are less likely to be found.  The glue on some glueboards loses its stickiness and become ineffective at low temperatures.  At one store the problem was solved by the staff – they sighted the rat and charged at it with a broom.  How would you try to control a rat in a cold store? 

Longer, thicker coat on the rat.


Rat footprints on a glueboard in a coldstore

slightly different looking rat that will not eat baits or go to traps

A rat seen sometimes around the bbq and even in the kitchen in outer suburban areas.  Customer said it is attracted to meat.  Very secretive but has seen it and noticed a very pointy nose and long tail.  Did not look like the common rat. 

What is it and how would you manage it?

rats in cars – won’t go to food in traps or eat bait (late winter)

Why are the rats not taking bait? 

How would you control rats in this situation?


‘freezer’ rats

What does a rat in a cold room need most – warmth and nesting material.  The next time the rat was caught the first night when snap traps (with attractant) were placed amongst shredded paper (nesting material) in a corner near the rat activity.

slightly different looking rat

Antechinus spp. are found in all states of Australia but have only come to our notice in the last couple of years.  They are native carnivorous marsupials and they are protected.  Their normal habitat is forests where they shelter in nests in trees, hollow logs or crevices, so furniture in bush areas or farms is a logical substitute.  They are nocturnal and avoid urban areas.

Antechinus are voracious carnivores that feed on insects, spiders, worms and small reptiles.  Individuals are usually solitary except for the brief mating period and when the female is raising you.  The vigorous competition occurs between the males and females and the frenzied mating period ends within three weeks after which most males die from stress and exhaustion.


3Body size  70-140mm, 17-71g

Tail            sparsely haired, similar length as body

Colouring   greyish brown to black above, paler below

Head         long pointed head with bulging eyes

Ears           long thin and crinkly, with a notch in the margin

Front teeth  four pairs of small sharp incisors

Antichinus flavipes

Yellow footed Antechinus

rats in cars

The rats have chosen their nesting place. Again shredded paper with snap traps or glueboards nearby may solve the problem.

Taken from Garrards Pest Review Magazine.