‘Worst rodent problem in years’: Unwelcome pests make thousands call for help

Jason Cartledge is getting more calls for help with pests like the cockroaches pictured.

Jason Cartledge is getting more calls for help with pests like the cockroaches pictured. Photo: Slugabug Pest Solutions

The phones of Australian pest controllers are ringing off the hook this year, with a boom in reports of unwanted critters making their way into Australian homes.

The problem is so bad that there has been a 21 per cent increase in demand for pest control experts in the first of quarter of 2023 compared to the previous year, according to digital marketplace Oneflare.

Jason Cartledge from Brisbane-based Slugabug Pest Solutions says he has collectively quoted for more than 3000 pest control jobs so far this year.

With winter closing in, he said he’s seeing many more jobs with rodents as they sneak into roof cavities, under beds and drawers, and even into lawnmowers in search of warmth.

“They are using trees and hedges touching the home and roof to gain access. I’m getting jobs every day to get rid of them. It’s the worst rat and mice problem I’ve seen in years,” he said.

“Once the rats get inside the walls they can cause havoc inside those walls, creating a bigger nightmare. I’ve even found them nesting in lawnmowers and cupboards.

“German cockroaches are around at the moment as well.”

Blame the weather

John Kara, owner of Melbourne-based ProBest Pest Control, has been in the business for seven years, and said calls for his services had increased over the 2022-23 summer months compared to previous years.

Mice and wasps were the main pests he is paid to deal with.

pest control

Demand for John Kara’s pest control services were higher this summer than previous ones.

About 60 per cent of his summer callouts asked him to deal with wasps, which he largely attributed to warmer weather.

He said increased construction work has also driven mice into the relative peace and quiet of already-constructed (and inhabited) homes.

If you want to avoid rodents or other pests taking up residence in your home, seal any gaps they could squeeze through to enter, Mr Cartledge said.

That means any cracks or gaps in your home’s exterior walls, the foundations, and the roof, and use weather stripping to close gaps around doors and windows.

Home maintenance is also important for more than impressing visitors; keeping your home clutter-free can reduce hiding places for pests.

Crumb-free countertops

Keeping firewood and other items stored away from your home’s exterior walls prevents pests from using them as shelter, and trimming  trees or bushes that touch your home’s exterior walls can help stop pests from using them as a bridge to enter your home.

Food should be stored in air-tight containers, and surfaces should be kept free of crumbs and spilled food. Mr Kara also singled out pet owners, and said they should keep an eye on the mess left around their dog or cat’s food bowl.

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