Cold weather brings rodents indoors

The main doors of McKee Fisk are typically used each day by students, faculty and staff. But more recently rodents have been spotted making their way through those doors as well.

“There’s a cute little squirrel at McKee Fisk that jumps up and down and sets off the automatic door. I’ve seen him,” said Rick Finden, associate director of plant operations.

The squirrels, like all rodents, are primarily looking for food as well as a warm place to escape from falling temperatures, Finden told The Collegian in a phone interview. McKee Fisk isn’t the only building on campus that deals with rodents during this time of the year.

Recently, several mice moved into the University Police building on Barstow Avenue, Finden said.

“The police [building] is a surprising one,” he said. “All of a sudden it just got some family or a clan [of mice] that moved in, and we’re working hard to eradicate them.”

In September, the Phoebe Conley Art Building was host to a rat, Finden said. Mice were spotted in both the Lab School and Speech Arts in October.

Professor Jeff Hunter teaches set design and works in the scene shop in Speech Arts where he said a mouse was spotted twice last week. Hunter said during cooler weather mice are seen in the building every once in a while, but it always gets taken care of quickly.

After spotting the mouse, Hunter said he consulted a recent e-mail sent out from the department of risk management and sustainability about rodent infestation prevention. He now keeps all snacks stored in tin boxes.

Plant Operations is responsible for eradicating and eliminating building entry points whereas the department of risk management and sustainability deals with prevention and clean-up, Finden explained.

In a phone interview with Lisa Kao, environmental health and safety manager, she said that assistant vice president for risk management and sustainability David Moll refused to talk to The Collegian. Kao also would not comment, except to say that she sent out an email encouraging prevention.

Dennis Dooley, owner of Dooley Pest Control, has practiced pest and rodent control at Fresno State for 15 years. Dooley said he receives several calls at this time of the year about mice on campus.

To catch mice, Dooley uses glue traps, which are plastic trays with a thin layer of very sticky glue. Basic snap traps are used when trapping rats, and Dooley said he uses Tootsie Rolls or jelly beans for bait. According to Dooley, chocolate is a big favorite among rodents.

“If you’ve got a Snickers bar around, look out,” he said. “Peanuts and chocolate, they can’t beat that.”

Historically, the east side of campus has had more rodents because of its close proximity to once open fields, Finden said. He said the Science building, Joyal Administration and the Leon S. Peters building tend to be the biggest targets of rodents.

The Leon S. Peters Business Building has rodent activity every year, Dooley said. He suspects the fiber optic cables running into the building act as entry points for the rodents.

Dooley said exclusion is the key to prevent rodent infestation. Exclusion is simply sealing the entry points into a building. Last year, the North Gym had a significant problem with rats coming through empty pipes into an old bathroom used for storage. Once the entry point was discovered, Dooley said it was a quick process to trap the rats and eliminate the problem.

For rodent control, the first thing to do is keep them from getting in the building, according to Dooley.

“You can trap all you want. If you don’t find out how they’re getting into the building and stop that or seal it up, you’re wasting your time.”

Due to a number of labs that work with seeds, the Agricultural Sciences building often has mice. After last year’s campaign to seal the building, coupled with staff and faculty maintaining good housekeeping practices, the mouse problem isn’t as bad, Finden said.

Dooley said it is important to keep outside doors closed, especially as the temperature drops. He also suggested storing food in closed containers and cleaning up crumbs after eating.

“It just goes on and on with different buildings at different times of the year,” said Finden of rodent control. “It’s definitely more of a problem in the winter, because it gets cold outside, there’s nothing to eat and so [rodents] just come in. It becomes a real challenge.”

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