Facebook Twitter
TIS Cook Islands
Rattus rattus (Ship Rat) Photo: Gerald McCormack An example of a rat-specific bait station, from India

Are you having problems with rats? Rats can be very annoying. They can destroy your garden and crops, spread and carry a whole lot of diseases and just the presence of these pests in your household could make your nice comfortable home feel very unpleasant to live in. Rats have been effectively controlled in the Takitumu Conservation Area for nearly 30 years, using rat poison. However, if you are thinking of trying to control the rats in your location using poison, there are a few precautions that you need to take.
Te Ipukarea Society has some experience with rat bait, mainly through our involvement in the 2013 rat eradication project on Suwarrow. This experience has led us to use “Island Bait” rat poison. This is manufactured by Bell Laboratories Inc. in the USA. Bell Laboratories Inc. is a world leader in rodent control technology. The “Island Bait” rat poison is specially designed to be effective and suitable for tropical island climate weather, making an ideal solution for us here in the islands. This particular bait type comprises a base matrix of cereal grains which are bound together with sugars and synthetic compounds that make it attractive and highly palatable to rats. And while the bait should be applied in situations that it remains dry, the matrix is resistant to some moisture, but will degrade following prolonged exposure.
The poison affects the ‘vitamin K’ cycle in mammals and results in haemorrhage (internal bleeding) of internal organs. Not all animals are equally susceptible i.e. rats are highly sensitive to it whereas we humans are not (it is still recommended to reduce exposure through use of gloves).
In a domestic environment rat bait should be contained (and not scattered loosley on the ground) so that dogs, chickens, stock and children etc. cannot access it. The best way to use this bait is by placing it inside bait stations, that the rats can get in, but larger animals cannot squeeze in. This can be achieved by placing the bait within a piece of drain pipe (ideally with the size of which only rats can enter), or an ice cream container with a cut out tunnel. Ensure the bait station is secured in an area that is away from non targeted species, and where rats are active. Relatively small amounts of bait should be dispensed into a bait station at a time (no more than a cup or 250gms).
Sensitivity of animals to the bait differs between taxonomic groups and species, for example, rats are more sensitive than mice, some birds are more sensitive than others. “Island Bait” will be effective against all three species of rats we have here in the Cook Islands – The Polynesian Rat (Rattus exulans), Ship Rat or Black Rat (Rattus rattus), and the largest of the three, the Norwegian Rat or Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus). The Bell Lab “Island Bait” rat poison will be used to eradicate the remaining population of polynesian rats on Suwarrow Island in May this year.
Predators like cats, chickens and dog could get secondary poisoning by consuming a contaminated rat. However, it is not serious and can be treated with vitamin K.
A few precautions to be followed if you are using rat poison are:
• Wear protective equipment such as gloves when you handle the bait. Brodifacoum is a slight skin irritant and a mild eye irritant.
• Small children should be closely supervised while bait is still present on the ground.
• Land crabs and chickens active in the area should not be eaten for a minimum of six months after bait is applied.
• Pigs should be removed from the area so that they do not have access to bait and should not be let loose or returned to the area for at least six months after bait application.
• If young children or domestic animals do somehow get poisoned by rat bait, Vitamin K is an effective antidote.
If you have any questions and inquiries or you are interested in using rat poison, come and see us at the Te Ipukarea Society office down in Tupapa next to Bamboo Jacks for some more advice. We do have limited quantities of Bell Lab “Island Bait” rat poison for sale, This is not to create profit but will be used to purchase a new round of bait to use for our upcoming work on Suwarrow this year, as there is a small chance that by May some of the bait will begin losing its effectiveness, as our current stock was meant to be used on Suwarrow in September 2017.

Read more news
Liam questions Mr. Matthews via video-conference Liam and some fellow YPL delegates at Kīlauea

TIS project officer Liam recently travelled to the Hawaiian Islands to participate in the 2018 Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) Conference on the 15-18 January. The conference is hosted jointly by the East-West Center which is based at the University of Hawai’i, and the United States Department of State.
The main purposes of the workshop for delegates were as follows –
1) Strengthen their leadership capacity,
2) Enhance their knowledge of opportunities for economic and civic development in the region,
3) Deepen their knowledge of the U.S. partnership with the Pacific, and
4) Build a supportive network of like-minded change-makers across the region.
The conference was jam packed with a number of sessions which revolved around a range of issues facing the Pacific region. The following report covers the sessions which had the most relevance to the improved sustainability of our Pacific Region:
On the first day the group was given the opportunity to participate in a video conference with Mr. Matthew Matthews, the Deputy Assistant Security, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. It was during this meeting Liam was able to ask Mr Matthews: “What is the United States doing to assist the Pacific Island region to address the issue of marine litter and pollution in the Pacific, noting that much of the litter found in the Pacific can be traced back to the U.S.?” Unfortunately the conference was “off the record” and for that reason his answer cannot be published!

On the second day the group travelled to Hawai’i island (also known as “Big Island”), after which the state of Hawai’i is named. While travelling to the Hilo market the leaders listened to a presentation by Margarita Hopkins, the Development Specialist for the Hawai’i County Department of Research and Development. Margarita discussed Small Island Economic Development through local products – particularly agricultural products. Hawai’i Island has a long-established and successful agriculture industry for both domestic and international export and there were many areas where Rarotonga may be able to learn from Hawai’i’s agricultural success.
Also on Big Island, the young leaders visited the Pacific Aquaculture & Coastal Resources Center (PACRC) University of Hawai’i at Hilo. Here the group observed a number of projects working to achieve more sustainable sourcing of marine resources. These included raising tilapia fish through aquaponics (the combination of hydroponics and aquaculture), raising Pacific oysters for export to the U.S. through aquaculture, and most interesting was the raising endemic Hawai’ian ornamental fish species, in attempt to address the overharvesting of these species through the acquarium trade. Many of these fish species had never been bred in captivity until PACRC initatied this project.
Their final presentation on Big Island was by the Cindy Orlando, Superintendent of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park who talked about the work they do connecting people with national parks through education, volunteerism and philanthropy. This was followed by a visit the the majestic Kīlauea volcano, which in Hawaiʻian mythology is said to the be the resting place of Pele, the goddess of fire, and therefore one of the most sacred sites in the archipelago.
On the final day of the workshop, attendees visited the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters at Sand Island, Honolulu. Here Liam was able to learn more about what the Coast Guard is doing to combat Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing in U.S. waters. In the latter half of the day the young leaders worked on brainstorming for project ideas which they now may be able to make a reality, as the group now has access to apply for grants from the U.S. YPL grants which can fund up to US $13,750.
Liam would like to thank Te Ipukarea Society for supporting his attendance at this conference which has boosted his leadership capacity as well as increased his knowledge of what is happening in the Paific Region in the areas of environmental sustainability, economic, and social issues.

Read more news