Rats and mice in pest management
Discussions about the treatment of animals often focus on the welfare and treatment of production animals. However, more animals are involved. All over the world, unknown large numbers of wild living rats, mice and other animals are killed because they are perceived as pests causing damage to human and animal health, human property and food safety. If labelled as a pest animal, discussions on moral status and welfare seem to disappear from the public debate. This seems rather strange, if we take into account that these rats and mice do not differ in their capabilities to suffer compared to rats and mice in other contexts.
Is the treatment of rats and mice in pest management responsible and sustainable?
The treatment of pest animals needs improvement
Research from CenSAS shows that animal welfare and the moral position of rats and mice in current pest management practices seem to remain underexposed. While the welfare of rats and mice as laboratory animals is protected by legislation, this is not the case for wild rats and mice. For these animals there is hardly any legislation that protects their welfare. As a consequence, people can almost do anything to these animals. In most countries people kill rats and mice, often with methods inflicting significant levels of suffering. This seems rather strange, if we take into account that these rats and mice do not differ in their capabilities to suffer compared to rats and mice in other contexts.
The negative image of rats and mice should not be an excuse to treat them so badly
On the one hand there is growing societal attention for the welfare of animals and on the other hand there is growing experience of nuisance causes by rats and mice. From this, a growing concern about the position and treatment of rats and mice can be expected in the near future. We found that stakeholders involved with pest management, among which governments, pest controllers, animal protection NGO’s and advisors and researchers in the field of (pest) animal management, feel the need to take the moral position and welfare of liminal rodents more seriously. They urge for a better application of preventive measures by all people involved in pest control, including private persons. More attention should be paid to the welfare impact of control methods.
Together with stakeholders we work to develop an assessment frame for a more responsible rodent management, in which the moral position and welfare of commensal rodents is included. The negative image of rats and mice should not be an excuse to treat them so badly. They also deserve a responsible treatment.
Animal welfare in rodent management
Here you can fiend (scientific) publications about this topic.
- Complete report Quick Scan treatment of rats and mice in pest management (in Dutch)
The black box of rodents perceived as pests: on inconsistencies, lack of knowledge and a moral mirror (full text can be requested via CenSAS)
Rumble in the urban jungle: moral dilemmas in the management of liminal rodents perceived as pests (full text can be requested via CenSAS)
Effectiveness and animal welfare aspects of drowning traps for the control of harmful wild rodents (report in Dutch, but English summary available)
Reports student research
- Research on integrated rat management policies of municipalities in the Netherlands (only in Dutch)
- On the urban habitat of Rattus Norvegicus. Research on the relation between urban habitat factors and presence of Norway Rats in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Nijmegen (in English).