When dealing with rats on your property, you will have multiple control methods to choose from. Many homeowners and even some less reputable rat control companies turn to poison as their method of choice.
In theory, poison is a good choice. It should be simple to use and does not require you to directly interact with the rats.
Taking a closer look at rat poison, however, will show you that this rat control method is not as useful as many people think it is. In fact, there are many issues with rat poison, ranging from its ineffectiveness to the debate as to whether it is humane to use.
It Will Not Kill All the Rats
For most homeowners, one of the strongest points against using rat poison is that it will not even take care of the problem. That is because it will not kill all of the rats on your property. This comes from a combination of factors.
Some Rats Are Resistant
Some rats have developed a resistance to certain poisons, so even if they consume the rat poison, it may or may not have an effect on them. You can overcome this by avoiding first-generation anticoagulants, which are the category of poisons that rats are most likely to have resistance to.
Not All Will Eat It
You also need to consider the fact that in order for a rat to die from poison, the rat needs to consume it. While a reasonable number of rats will likely eat some of the poison, chances are incredibly slim that every single rat in a large population will consume enough of the poison to die.
It May Not Kill Them
Even if a rat is not resistant to the rat poison you choose and does eat it, there is still no guarantee that it will kill that rat. Sometimes, the rats will consume too little and just get very sick. Or another factor can be at play. In this case, you may find yourself with some dead rats and some sick rats.
This particular issue with poison is particularly important when dealing with a larger colony of rats. You will likely thin out the numbers a bit, but you will still have a rodent problem on your hands.
It Only Provides a Temporary Solution
The other major point against using rat poison is that it only provides you with a temporary solution. As soon as you stop using the poison, more rats can appear and wander around freely. It simply is not cost-effective or safe to consistently use poisons for a long period of time, so at some point, you will stop benefiting from any effects you notice.
You Still Have to Find and Remove the Rats
There is also the question of what you consider “effective” when dealing with rats. Most homeowners want to remove them in a way that is simple with minimal effort but gets the job done. We already explained that rat poison will not kill all of the rats, but it is also far from simple.
The actual set-up of the poison is straightforward and does not require direct interaction with the rats, but what about when they die? Despite the claims made by certain poisons, they are unlikely to cause the rodent to die outside or out in the open. It is much more likely that rodents will head to their nests when they feel sick and die there. Or, they will already be in their nest and feel too weak to move.
If a rat dies in its nest, you are in for an unpleasant game of hide and seek. If you do not find and remove the dead rat quickly, it will begin to decay, attracting flies, spreading disease, and spreading a horrible smell.
Unfortunately, finding the dead rat to remove it is easier said than done. Rats tend to nest in hard-to-find spots as a safety measure. This means that they may be in your walls or ceilings. Not only does that make it hard to discover where the dead rat is, but it also makes it nearly impossible to access the area without cutting a whole in your wall or ceiling.
It is Inhumane
Although it does not relate to the ineffectiveness of using rat poison, this method is also widely considered to be inhumane. It prolongs the suffering of the rats instead of killing them quickly. Experts agree that as the rats wait days for poison to work, they will be in pain and uncomfortable, which leads to many people considering this method inhumane.
Risks of Primary and Secondary Poisoning
You should also strongly consider the risks of primary and secondary poisoning before turning to rat poison. If you have small children or pets, they could find the rat poison and accidentally ingest it. This could lead to severe medical symptoms or even death in extreme cases.
There is also the risk of a pet eating a poisoned rat and ingesting some of the poison in the process, via secondary poisoning. This would also be a serious health threat to your pet.
What to Do Instead
If using rat poison is ineffective, then you may wonder what you should do instead. The best solution is to take preventative measures to discourage rats from invading your property. You should always include these steps with any others that you take. Otherwise, you will take care of the current rats only for new ones to come and take their place, creating a cycle of rat control.
Seal Off Your Home
Start by inspecting your home or having a professional do so, and sealing up any gaps or holes in the walls, ceilings, by vents, or around windows and doors. These are some of the favorite entry points of rats so closing them up will prevent the rodents from coming inside in most cases.
Get Rid of Food Sources
You should also remove any potential food sources from your home, such as leftovers left on the counter, open garbage cans, and unsupervised pet food.