Common rodent pests found in Singapore and what to do when you see them

A rat caught in a rat trap by pest controllers from Star Pest Control deployed to get rid of rats at slope near Bukit Batok MRT station on Dec 18, 2014. -- ST PHOTO : MARK CHEONG 
A rat caught in a rat trap by pest controllers from Star Pest Control deployed to get rid of rats at slope near Bukit Batok MRT station on Dec 18, 2014. -- ST PHOTO : MARK CHEONG 

SINGAPORE - Rats have become a talking point following frequent sightings of them at a grassy slope near the Bukit Batok MRT station. The pest busters called in on Thursday morning have started laying rat poison and traps in the area. The extermination mission could take several days to complete.

Pest busters have identified the rodents as Norway rats, one of three commonly found species in Singapore. Here is a look at the three species, and how to prevent their numbers from growing.

Common rodent pests in Singapore

1. Norway rat

Also known as Brown rat or sewer rat

Lives in burrows and builds nests underground; are good swimmers

2. Roof rat

Also known as Black rat

Lives in the upper parts of dwellings such as houses or shopping malls; are good climbers, have tails longer than their bodies so they can balance on tight paths

3. House mouse

Less common are house mice that can be found near food sources such as pantries

How to prevent their numbers from growing

Pest control expert Ivan Goh of Q-Vector Pest Management said the best way to get rid of rodents is to remove three things - food, shelter and water.

Keeping food in plastic bags is not enough, as the rodents are able to gnaw through these.

"Housekeeping is very important to prevent rats," he said. "You should try to seal up entry points, like small gaps, to prevent them from coming in."

Director of Origin Exterminators Carl Baptista said: "People should stop feeding animals on the streets. This includes birds. There are still people who throw bread out for birds."

Throwing waste into dustbins with lids is the best way to keep pests away, he added.

What to do if you see rats

"The best thing to do if you see rats is to inform your Town Council. They are usually the quickest to go down and take a look," said Mr Baptista.

He said that while videos could better capture the severity of the rat problem, photos are also useful. The Town Council will then call in the pest controllers.