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Focus on . . . Rodent management

In many rural areas, rodents are ranked in the top three for most important pests. In Indonesia, for example, rats cause annual pre-harvest losses of approximately 17%, enough to feed more than 25 million Indonesians for a year. In post-harvest systems, losses may be even higher as crops have attained their highest value and rodent damage to storage structures and machinery can also be costly. And, unlike most other pests, which can cause extensive damage to crops, rodents are reservoirs for many debilitating diseases that impact on human and livestock health. In an effort to reduce reliance on chemical rodenticides, rodent research is currently focused on improving understanding of rodent biology and population dynamics. In this edition of New Agriculturist, we highlight some of the outcomes of this research in the development of ecologically-based, integrated management methods that are being tested and promoted as an alternative means of preventing rodent population explosions and reducing rodent damage.

Note: Further coverage on rodent management will be given at the 2nd International Conference on Rodent Biology and Management to be held in Bogor, Indonesia, 28th October - November 1st, 2002. For further details see www.icrbm.com

Rodents: a gnawing problem

Of the 1700 rodent species found worldwide, less than ten species occur in and around human habitation and only twenty or so species in total are termed as important pests. However, the economic importance of these few species...

To catch a rat...

In the Chinese zodiac, rats are considered adaptable, successful and clever; rice farmers in some parts of Asia even have a grudging respect for their rodent neighbours. But pre-harvest losses to rats are increasing. Losses of between...

Ecological rodent control approaches in East Africa

Traditional farm storage systems have evolved to provide good protection against mould deterioration, provide a barrier to insect and rodent pest attack and deter theft. Legs of storage structures, for instance, will be fitted with metal halos to prevent rats from...

Pythons and parasites

Using reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus) as part of a rodent control project may sound extreme, but it's an approach on the verge of commercialisation in Thailand. Not that farmers are planning to release thousands of snakes into their fields. But large numbers...

Reproductive restraint revealed in mice

Killing rodents, whether by traps, chemicals or diseases, will never be an efficient long-term management option. Such attempts at pest control will always be fighting against the natural strengths of the pest; their mobility and their extraordinary reproductive capacity. For example...

Rodent pests and pestilence

HIV/AIDS may be the plague of the modern world but in the mid 1300s, the bubonic plague or 'Black Death' killed 25 million people in Europe, almost a third of the population, in just under five years of the disease spreading from China. The effect on medieval society was severe; whole villages were wiped out and many farms were abandoned. Today, the plague persists...

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