Pest control firms report increase in business as homeowners battle rats and mice.

Homeowners are struggling with a rodent problem as the long dry spell creates perfect breeding conditions for rats and mice.

Exterminators say the extended hot weather has resulted in rodents breeding more often.

And the lack of rain has driven them indoors earlier than usual - in search of water and food - meaning many homeowners and businesses are having to deal with infestations.

Mark McDonald, of pest control company Bug King, said the company was getting up to 10 calls a day from around Auckland.


Usually, at this time of the year it would receive about four calls daily.

"In places where rodents usually get their water, from sewers and drains, that water's no longer available because it's a lot drier right now.

"That's why they're coming indoors earlier. They're getting water from pet bowls and around the home.

" There is also a lack of food, but that moisture is what they're trying to get to the most."

He said rodents normally stayed outdoors until the weather became cooler, particularly as we headed into winter.

Target Pest Control, which has branches in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, has had to increase its stock of bait to combat the rodent numbers.

Owner Norman Kerr said workers were noticing that bait was disappearing more quickly.

He agreed that warm weather created better breeding conditions.

"We've definitely had a big increase in rodent activity. We do a lot of commercial work - at parks, reserves and commercial buildings - and there have been big increasesof activity in programmes that we've set up.

"We've noticed that there's been a huge increase in bait that they've been eating - that's how we know they're quite active at the moment.

"We've started buying a lot of bait in because we're just starting to go through quite a lot.

"The heat's making them breed faster, but if there's not an availability of food and water then that will slow down their breeding and they'll move into new territories looking for food and water."

Asked how this year's rodent activity compared with the same time last year, he said it was 10 times worse.

Mr Kerr said people could help reduce a rodent problem by fixing holes in walls, cutting long grass around their property and removing objects in which rodents could hide.

Rodent wars
* Remove anything around your house that could harbour rodents, eg, long grass, pipes and unused spouting.

* Fix holes and cracks in walls.

* Clean up around fruit trees - fruit left on the ground will attract rodents.

* Make sure all foods in your home are sealed properly.

* Get a cat.