The Surprising Reason Termite Inspectors Never Mention Rat Poop

The Surprising Reason Termite Inspectors Never Mention Rat Poop.

You’d think it would be easy to identify rat poop. Poop looks like…poop. When that poop is a certain size, it is a fair conclusion that a rat caused the mess. Yet, a termite inspector won’t mention “rat feces” in a report even if a house is up to the rafters in rodent droppings. They also won’t tell you about the bats in the attic, the surface mold in the crawl space, or the bee hive behind the water heater.

Termite inspectors aren’t lazy, or blind, or bad at their jobs. In fact, highly experienced inspectors are less likely to note household pest problems in a termite inspection report than an inexperienced inspector. Why? Because their lips are sealed by state regulation.

It takes four years on the job, 100 hours of specific training, a clean background check, and passing a rigorous, written examination from the state Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB) in order to become a licensed termite inspector. The SPCB regulations specifically define the organisms and items that a termite inspector is licensed to comment upon.

SPCB license holders are prohibited from identifying pests or organisms outside the scope of their license. While a termite inspector may recognize a rat if it bit him on the nose, most inspectors won’t risk their license by calling the culprit a rat:

“Licenses … shall be limited to the branch or branches of pest control for which the applicant has qualified by application and examination…Branch 3. Termite. The practice relating to the control of wood-destroying pests or organisms by the use of insecticides, or structural repairs and corrections, excluding fumigation with poisonous or lethal gases.”—Structural Pest Control Act

Aren’t rats wood destroying organisms? Technically, and by statute, neither rats, surface mold, honey bees, ants, or bats are wood destroyers and therefore cannot be identified by a termite inspector.

What are observant termite inspectors to do? Short of giving a specific name to the problem and risking their licenses, some inspectors may include a vague note in a report.  “An unidentified brown material was noted in the attic” or “a strong smell was noted in the basement,” are your clues that the termite inspector found something you should have identified by a Branch 2 (household pest) licensed inspector or a licensed home inspector. HOWEVER, termite inspectors are not required to make any notes whatsoever about potential problems outside the scope of their license. It’s their livelihood on the line. All it takes is one person (usually a seller) to report that a termite inspector said there was surface mold in the basement for that inspector to be disciplined by the SPCB or suspended.

***UPDATE***

Some termite inspectors also hold a Branch 2 (household pest) license. These “cross-licensed” inspectors may comment upon household pests they identify.

Thrasher Termite & Pest Control employs at least one cross-licensed inspector at each branch. When you suspect household pests in addition to termites, let us know when you make your appointment. There is no additional charge for inspecting for household pests when performed at the same time as a termite inspection.

About the Author:

Garrett Thrasher is Vice President and General Manager of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal, Inc., Chairperson of the San Diego District of the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC), a member of the bedbugFREE network, and a member of the National Pest Management Association. Author of The Bed Bug Battle Plan: Field Tested Solutions for Bed Bug Extermination and Prevention (ISBN: 1500838209), Garrett’s solid understanding of bed bugs, their behavior, current outbreaks, and experience on camera has made him a leading contact for news and media outlets. He is also a sought after speaker on the topic of managing online reviews for positive impact. He has spoken at PestWorld and PestTech, and was featured in PCT Magazine and the PCT Podcast. Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal is accredited by QualityPro–the mark of excellence in pest management.

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