Rat poison is designed to kill rats, so it should go without saying that it features strong chemicals that can be harmful to humans.

If you accidentally ingest rat poison, seek immediate medical attention. Depending on the amount you consumed and the type of poison, the emergency services operator may provide you with different instructions. However, you should always contact poison control right away. Do not wait for your symptoms to start appearing as this could put your health at a significant risk.

You can either call 911 or contact poison control by calling (800) 222-1222.

Common Symptoms 

Sometimes, you may not be positive that you accidentally ingested rat poison and may just think that you did. In this case, you can look out for the symptoms as a sign that you did indeed consume the poison and need medical attention. 

Symptoms Vary Based on Poison

It is important to note that to some extent, the symptoms will vary based on the poison. Many rat poisons contain warfarin, a blood thinner commonly prescribed to heart attack or stroke patients. Other rat poisons use thallium sulfate. Second-generation rat poisons are especially toxic and include difenacoum, brodifacoum, and bromadiolone. 

Symptoms Can Take a Long Time to Appear

You should also note that symptoms of ingesting rat poison may appear within hours or it may take days or them to appear. Unfortunately, this makes it much harder to determine which poison was consumed, unless you know which one was present. 

The Key Symptoms

With that in mind, you should be on the lookout for symptoms such as:

  • nosebleeds that are not due to nose trauma
  • bleeding gums that are not from mouth trauma
  • dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • hematochezia (bloody diarrhea)
  • hematuria (bloody urine)
  • extreme fatigue

Extreme fatigue is a very serious symptom as this is one of the later indicators of rat poison ingestion and is incredibly danger. 

If You Are Not Treated

If you do not receive treatment for the rat poison as soon as possible, you will have a high risk of other serious consequences. These can include seizures, heart attacks, liver failure, respiratory distress, coma, shock, internal bleeding, and even sudden death. 

The thing to remember is that these symptoms are not exclusive to rat poisoning. You may also experience similar symptoms for a range of other causes. However, any time that you suspect rat poison ingestion, seek medical attention. 

Should You Take Something?

Some people suggest taking syrup of ipecac or activated charcoal if you accidentally ingest rat poisoning. The idea is that these will serve as a temporary measure until you can get medical attention. 

Never take anything, including activated charcoal or syrup of ipecac, unless you are directed to by poison control or the emergency operator. They will know the ideal course of action to take, including seeking medical care.

Additionally, you are unlikely to have those items in your home already. As such, you would need to stop at a store to buy them. You would typically be better suited using that time spent at the store in getting to the emergency room more quickly.

fine grained charcoal powder

How Do You Know You Ingested Rat Poison?

Sometimes, you may think that you or a family member accidentally ingested rat poison but not be sure about it. If you are showing any of the previously mentioned symptoms and think there is any chance that you consumed rat poison, then seek medical care. A doctor will assess your condition and let you know whether the rat poison was likely the problem or something else is at play. 

One clearer sign that you accidentally consumed rat poison is if multiple people in your home experience the same symptoms suddenly. In this case, you all likely accidentally consumed it at the same time.

Preventing Rat Poison Ingestion

Since accidentally ingesting rat poison typically leads to time in the hospital, it is best to prevent yourself from getting into a situation where this occurs. 

Rodenticide Bait Laws

Luckily, the law somewhat reduces the risk of consuming rat poisoning. That is because since 2011, all rodenticide bait has to be sold in blocks instead of loose or as pellets. It must also stay within a tamper-proof bait station. These regulations make it significantly harder to accidentally consume, especially for adults. 

Store and Use It Out of the Way

To further prevent accidentally ingesting the poison, store it away from food items and any other important household goods. When placing the rat, always try to put it somewhere out of the way, once again in a location that is far from food and drinks. This will dramatically reduce the risk of contamination. 

It is especially important that you keep the rat poison tucked away if you have pets or small children as they could get into the poison and consume it. It is also wise to educate your children that the rat poison is “yucky” and not safe so they are not tempted. 

Wash Your Hands

You do not want to accidentally ingest even a small amount of the rat poison, so also be sure to wash your hands after handling it. Ideally, you should never directly touch the poison, but even if you do not, you should wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

The Takeaway

With all of that information, there are some very important key takeaways. Most importantly, if you or someone else accidentally ingests rodent poison or you suspect they did, you should immediately contact poison control or 911. Follow the instructions on the other end of the line, which will likely encourage you to go to the emergency room and possibly take a few steps in the meantime. 

When caught early, accidentally ingesting rat poison can result in a few days in the hospital. If it is not treated quickly enough, however, death becomes a possibility. The exact symptoms and timeline will vary based on the type of rat poison, but it is always wise to be overly cautious in this situation.