When you hear the word rat, you probably get an automatic shiver. Since ancient times, these rodents have plagued humans in every corner of the world. Not only do they contaminate food and water, but they can spread several diseases such as bubonic plague and rabies.
Rats invade homes, barns, and other buildings, and they often cause structural damage. They have keen intelligence and sometimes impede attempts to kill them in traps. If you are experiencing an infestation, you need the correct information to get rid of them. Before you resort to rodenticide, consider the reasons why using poison may be more dangerous than the rats themselves.Historical Pest Control
Throughout history, people have dealt with rat infestations in various ways. They often used brooms, knives, and other small tools to beat the invading pests. Since rats multiply quickly and are adept at hiding, they weren’t easy to kill off. As dogs and cats were domesticated, early civilizations used them for hunting vermin and keeping them out of their homes.
Records of the ancient Egyptians reveal that they kept venomous snakes around to kill mice and rats. With their discovery and experimentation with poisons, it wasn’t long until societies were using poisoned food to entice the rats. Poisoning rats continue to be a critical method in controlling rodent infestations, but are there far-reaching consequences? What about the other animals that come in contact with the toxic chemicals?
The Use of Strychnine
One of the first popular rodenticides was strychnine, a deadly poison gathered from the strychnine tree. It can kill rats and other pests in less than an hour. Strychnine is usually considered a first-generation vermin poison. After World War II, pest control developers saw promise in using anticoagulants.
These powerful drugs inhibit blood clotting, so rats that eat it die within a couple of days from internal bleeding. Sometimes, first-generation poisons are compounded with second-generation anticoagulants to produce a lethal poison that works quickly and effectively. Why would using rat poison not be a good idea for your pest problems?Using Behaviors For Effective Pest Control
Reading rat information can give you clues about their behavior and why poisons may not work. First, you cannot poison rats unless you can fool them into eating it. For years, pest control manufacturers developed clever ruses for the poison, such as strychnine-laced peanuts and infused grain.
Since rats aren’t capable of vomiting, they have developed a strong suspicion of any new food. They often will avoid poisoned bait out of fear. Rats may be suspicious of bait left out in the open and may not touch it. However, these smart creatures are also curious and often take the bait to see what it is. If you use poison, the rats could just ignore it and continue nibbling on goodies in your pantry. If rats have a recognized food source, they are less likely to test a new one.The Hazard Of Rotting Carcasses Within The Walls
Another factor to consider is the disposal of the dead rats, which presents hazards of its own. When rats are dying from poison, they will sometimes come out into the open in search of water due to severe dehydration. However, they are often too weak to leave their lairs and die within walls or other out-of-reach places. Few things are as repulsive as the smell of a dead rat carcass. If you put out poison and the vermin die where you can’t reach them, you and your family will be plagued with noxious odors for days.Contaminating Your Surfaces
What about the poisoned rats that die in the open? Second-generation poisons produce massive internal bleeding, and the affected rodents often “bleed out” where they collapse and die. What could be more disgusting than a bloody rat lying on your kitchen counter or your carpet?
You would be forced to wear gloves, a mask, and a collection tool to put the dead rat in a plastic bag. Then, there may be contaminated blood splotches to clean, posing health risks and stains to household surfaces. After you tie the carcass up in a plastic bag, what is the safest way to dispose of it? Having dead, decaying rodents in your dumpster may entice other unwanted pests.
How Rat Poison Affects The Food Chain
Before using rat poison, consider how it could negatively affect the food chain. Although wild rats are disgusting critters, they play an essential role in feeding other animals. Birds of prey, like owls, hawks, and eagles, depend on mice and rats for the bulk of their meals.
Snakes, foxes, wolves, wild cats, and other larger carnivores feast on vermin. These predators are at risk when their primary food source could be poisoned. Birds of prey regurgitate bits of their meal to their young ones. Rats that have eaten poison in barns and other outdoor areas can also poison surrounding wildlife. Since some birds of prey and other predators are on the endangered species list, using poison for rats is dangerous for animals in the wild.
What about domestic dogs and cats that might sample a dead poisoned rat carcass? They would be ingesting the poison and could die a brutal death. Not only can poison meant for rats can harm other animals, but it can disturb the environment and be hazardous to humans.
Why Leaving Boxes of Poison Around Is Dangerous?
What happens to the rodenticide that the rats don’t eat? This question is especially crucial since some rodent poisons are spread without containers around barns and other outbuildings. Wind and precipitation break the poisoned bait and dead carcasses down so that the raw poison can leach into the soil.
Secondary poisoning is a big problem. Earthworms and beneficial insects can die from the fallout. These dangerous chemicals can also find their way into streams, lakes, and rivers, poisoning fish and other marine life. If poison gets into your soil and water, you and your family can be eating contaminated produce and drinking poisonous water. Is such a precarious pest control worth it?
Eliminating Rodents Safely - Cut Off Food Supplies
How can you eliminate rodents safely and effectively? First, cut off their food supply. Keep all food in tightly closed containers that are vermin-proof. Clean up any food spills immediately and never leave food or garbage out to temp rats to come and dine. Ensure that your trashcan and dumpster are sealed and don’t throw scraps in the yard for wildlife. Seal all holes and cracks around your home, so they don’t become potential rat doorways.Using Quick-Kill Traps
When no surplus food is available, rat traps can be more productive. While the old-fashioned snap traps work well for mice, the larger ones made for rats don’t always do the trick. Rats are intelligent and can often learn how to spring the trap without harm.
These critters are also durable for their size and can sometimes be still alive in the rat trap, causing unnecessary suffering and a sickening situation for you. Glue traps pose the same problems and are not a dependable way to get rid of your rat problem. Some larger rats have also been known to get partially caught in a snap trap and carry the trap away with them. What traps are the best?
Consider using professional traps that are pre-baited and reset themselves. These traps kill quickly, and you don’t have to see the carcass. Unlike poison, they are non-toxic and don’t pose a threat to other animals or the environment. Having the right rat information and traps available can keep your home and property free of rats and potential infestation.
Every year, rats and mice enter 20 million U.S. homes uninvited. They reproduce rapidly, and can cost thousands of dollars in damages and extermination costs. They can ruin equipment, spoil food and start fires by chewing on wires.
We’ve trapped millions (seriously, millions) of rats and mice and the knowledge of what it takes to achieve success is highlighted in this guide.
June 20, 2022 4 min read
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