At some point, you may choose to use rat poison to take care of the nuisance rodents in your home. This may seem like your best choice as you will not have to interact with the rat, but there are some potentially serious consequences of using rat poison, including to human health.
It is also theoretically possible that you could die from accidentally consuming rat poison.
The Amount Needed Varies
There is no set answer to how much rat poison is needed to kill a human because there are numerous factors at play.
To some extent, it will depend on the type of rat poison in question and the way in which it works. It will also depend on:
Rat poisons that rely on warfarin or thallium as their active ingredient require consuming more to produce symptoms in human than the more toxic second-generation active ingredients, including difenacoum, brodifacoum, and bromadiolone.
Healthy Adults Would Need to Eat a Lot to Die
In most cases, you would have to consume a truly excessive amount of rat poison to die. Very few people would die from the amount of rat poison that they could ingest accidentally.
But You Can Get Very Sick – Especially Kids
While you are unlikely to die from accidentally consuming rat poison, you can get very sick. There are cases where children eat about a “mouthful” of a bait and experience bleeding problems.
In the case of brodifacoum, a common active ingredient in rat poison, a child who weighs about 10 kilograms would need to eat about 1.5 milligrams for their normal blood clotting to be ruined. Most common baits have 50 mg per kilogram of bait or less. In other words, a child would need to have about 30 grams of bait to experience those negative effects.
Unfortunately, this is likely within the range that a small child could eat unknowingly if they found a set of baits, as it is just several teaspoons.
Certain People Are at a Higher Risk
Most of the rat poisons work by affecting blood clotting to an extreme degree in rodents. As such, anyone who is already taking a blood thinner would have to consume much less of the poison to notice results or even die. In this case, the anticoagulant in the poison would work with the prescribed blood thinner to produce even greater results, prompting a trip to the emergency room.
Some other conditions can also increase the risk of being negatively affected by blood-thinning rat poisons, including those with liver diseases.
Symptoms of Consuming Rat Poison in Humans
To help you spot potential problems early, take a minute to learn about the potential symptoms associated with consuming rat poison.
You may experience:
Generally, if you experience more than one of those, then you may have consumed rat poison. If you notice the extreme fatigue, then the rat poisoning has already progressed and is very dangerous.
Ignoring Symptoms Can Cause Death
If you ignore the symptoms of rat poison in humans and do not get treatment, it can lead to serious problems. These may include internal bleeding, respiratory distress, seizures, heart attacks, shock, liver failure, and comas. Sudden death is also a possibility, as is the possibility of one of the previous symptoms causing death.
Always Call 911 If You Suspect Someone Consumed Rat Poison
Because the effects of rat poison in humans can progress and worsen, even leading to death, if left untreated, you should always contact 911 if you strongly suspect or know that someone consumed rat poison.
They may or may not suggest that you use syrup of ipecac or activated charcoal in the meantime. They will let you know if you need to go to the emergency room.
How to Avoid Humans Consuming Rat Poison
Even though you would have to consume a lot of rat poison to die, the effects of consuming any quantity can have serious negative consequences on your health. This is particularly true for children due to their low body weight. As such, you should take some important precautions to prevent accidental consumption of rat poison.
Take Care When Using It
When you set up the bait, always be careful not to touch the actual poison. You should also thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.
Keep It Out of Reach
If you have small children in your home, ensure that you always keep the rat poison out of reach. You do not want your child to accidentally find it and eat it.
Educate Your Children on the Dangers
From a young age, ensure that your children understand that the rat poison is not for them to eat and that it is dangerous. This way, even if they accidentally get a hold of it, they are less likely to consume it.
Choose Tamper-Proof Bait Stations
Regulations now require that rodenticide bait is contained in bait stations that are tamper-proof and you should always use these products if you must use rodenticide. If you have older products, swap them out for tamper-proof bait stations.
Remember Pets Would Need to Consume Less
Keep in mind that rat poison is also a risk to pets and because they have a lower body mass, they would need to consume less to experience negative results.
Other Reasons to Avoid Poison
If the risk to humans and pets is not enough to encourage you to stay away from rat poison, then consider a few other complications. When you use rat poison, the rat will not die right away. This gives it time to go to its nest and die there. As a result, you will not know where the dead rat is and you will have to try to find it, which can be very challenging. Additionally, rat poison causes suffering as it works, so the rat will be suffering for several days.
Instead, opt for a quick and humane method of controlling rats, such as preventative methods and snap traps.