Thanks to them, rodents are kept under tight control in Ho Chi Minh City.  

Rat hunters are contacted as soon as the rodents begin to mess around.

Restaurants, supermarkets, office buildings, and factories are places where they are most often needed.

Catching them the professional way

Nguyen Van Nghia has 12 years of experience in pest control. Currently he is the founder of Green House Pest Control, a 10-year-old company based in Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City.

According to Nghia, this city “might seem so splendid, but there are lots of rats.”

He set up his business to cater for different people and businesses.

During its infancy, his business went through immense financial difficulty due to a serious lack of customers.

Only those wealthy enough had the means to use his service.

Over the years, however, his clientele has become larger because the professional pest control service proved more effective than people catching them on their own.

The rats, according to Nghia, are “really smart.” It is really hard to stay pest-controlled without professional help.

Pham Lam Vu is a 33-year-old staff member at Green House Pest Control.

He and his partner came to a diner on Pham Van Dong Street in Thu Duc District for a business trip one afternoon.

It was not a spacious place, but the amount of food and stuff appealed to the rats.

Once he had performed a thorough scan of the whole area, Vu put on his rubber gloves and took out his toolkit, in which there were wooden rat traps with very powerful snapping force.

“These snap traps are for big city rats so they are very powerful. We often put them in places where rats move around frequently, like the kitchen, below a wardrobe, inside the ceiling or near the trash bins,” he said.

“Just one loud thud and you’ll know a rat has gone dead.”

He arranaged a total of six snap traps around his client’s restaurant.

According to Vu, snap traps are enough for use with indoor rodents. However, it takes candy-shaped bait soaked with legal drugs to catch rats on the outside.

He explained that rats which have taken the rodenticide will die after three to four days, so if they perish somewhere indoors, that will leave a horrible stench.

After snap traps come the sticky traps, which are basically small, flat boards of wood with a special glue covering the upper surface.

The bait in this case can be merely a single peanut, one for each sticky board.

Vu said that if one rat gets trapped, others tend to come to its rescue, so at the same time up to ten rats can get caught.

To figure out where rats are most active, Vu said look for rat droppings or their footprint.

An experienced rat hunter will make initial analysis to point out what kinds of rats are being active.

Insights into the habits of different types of rats will then help hunters decide on proper pest control measures.

As rats are mostly active during the night and hide themselves pretty well during the day, rat hunters often place their traps overnight, then collect their catch and dispose of them the next morning.

Vu came back to his client’s restaurant the next day to find three tiny rats stuck on his sticky rat boards.

With rubber gloves on, he pulled them out and placed them carefully inside a large black plastic bag.

His other sticky boards kept catching more rats the following days, but the snap traps stayed intact. That meant, he explained, there were no big city rats.

A rat hunter is carefully placing a series of sticky flat board traps on the floor where rats are supposed to move around frequently inside a restaurant in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

A rat hunter is carefully placing a series of sticky flat board traps on the floor where rats are supposed to move around frequently inside a restaurant in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Rodenticides as offerings to the gods

Five years ago, Nghia was hired to catch one big rat in a household business located in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City.

Before seeking professional aid, the house owner tried all kinds of tricks but in vain.

His traps remained untouched, but the food offerings made to the god of the land were bearing rat bites on them.

Despite Nghia’s experience, the rat still eluded his attempts for days.

He then asked the house owner for access to footage from the internal CCTV system.

As he studied the ‘smart rat’ from the screen, he noticed that it jumped over the traps into the foods instead of running across them.

He decided to lace the food offerings with rodenticides. The hungry rodent got itself killed after several days.

“The owner was really glad that the rat got caught. I got VND2 million [US$87] according to the contract, and one more million as a bonus,” said Nghia.

A snap trap has a more powerful grip and is used to deal with large city rats. Photo: Tuoi Tre

A snap trap has a more powerful grip and is used to deal with large city rats. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Bounty hunters – a rat race

Nguyen Quoc Tuan – head of sales at the Tam Phat pest control company – recalled his favorite rat hunt.

It was a contract he signed with a large industrial zone in Ho Chi Minh City. The extensive grounds made it a really tough job for the first 15 days.

Changing traps and bait did not work.

Finally, Tuan and his men found the rat hole and took out over a hundred rats of all sizes.

The need for rat hunters in Ho Chi Minh City is on the rise, leading to the establishment of more rat hunting services and pest control companies.

Tuan says that upon a customer’s contact, his men will do a thorough check of the area and provide proper consultancy before signing a legal contract.

He provides monthly, quarterly and other types of bundle services. His team deals with rats and insects.

“Our rat service is often for every 6 or 12 months, depending on the number of rats,” he said.

Inspection takes 4-5 days for a common household and up to 10-15 days for a restaurant or an industrial zone.

“Once a contract has ended, clients will receive an ‘insurance’ of 1-3 months depending on the number of rats,” he further explained.

Prices for this pest control service vary on the total size of the place.

A rat hunt package for a household costs VND1.5-3 million ($65-130), while that for a restaurant fetches VND4-5 million ($172-215).

The cost for an industrial zone is VND8-10 million ($345-430).

However, pest control companies can only reduce the number of rats by 80-90 percent. They cannot guarantee the removal of all the rats as these rodents are fast breeders.

Only when their cave is found and blocked from the outside will they be all killed.

With four years of experience in this line of work, Vu from Green House Pest Control thinks this job is quite fun.

He helps his customers keep the rats off, and it seems like he is aiding the society in controlling the annoying rodents.

He also cautions that rat hunters have to be extra careful.

A rat bite may transmit serious diseases, and rat traps might badly hurt if misused.

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