What is Rat Poison? When you have a rodent problem on your hands, it can be tempting to reach for the rat poison. However, when it comes to using poison for rats, there are some things you need to know. So, before you start any do-it-yourself rat control, here are the answers to some common questions about rodenticides.

A: The term "rat poison" covers three types of rodenticides: calcium releasers, anticoagulants and acute toxins. It is important to note that many acute toxins are no longer available as they have a high rate of accidental poisoning when used. There is only one type, bromethalin, still considered safe for use near homes.

A: Poisoned baits include both the rodenticide and a delivery mechanism for it. Typically, these are sold as rat poison pellets, treated seeds or grains, powders that are mixed in water or blocks of paraffin.

A: The way it works will depend on the type of rodenticide used. The acute toxin bromethalin works at a mitochondrial level, where it shuts down rodents' ability to produce energy. Zinc phosphide, an acute toxin only approved for agricultural use, causes a reaction in the stomach acid of rats resulting in a build up of toxic gases. Calcium releasers add too much calcium to rodent blood streams, leading to organ failure. Vitamin D3 is a common calcium releaser and carries no risk of secondary poisoning to other animals that may consume the dead rats. The last option, anticoagulants, causes internal bleeding. However, they often require the rodent to consume several doses to be effective.

Q: DOES RAT POISON WORK? A:Using a rodenticide can be an effective tool in the control of a rat infestation. However, it should only be used when other methods, such as trapping, are not enough. Bait placed outside should only be used when the interior of the home has been rodent-proofed so sick rats cannot enter, and tamper-proof bait stations must be used to minimize chances of accidental poisoning of other animals. Consult a professional before using these products indoors, as dead rats can become trapped inside walls or interior spaces where they will cause an odor.

A: No. All rat poisons are also toxic to both people and animals – including dogs – if consumed. Additionally, most types of rodent baits will remain inside the dead rats, and animals that prey on them could also become sick or die. Any bait used must be placed where other wildlife, children and pets cannot come into contact with it. The rule of thumb for tamper-proof bait stations is that they cannot be opened or the bait shaken out by a dog or a 4-year-old child.

A: Using a rodenticide should only be considered when other control methods have not proven effective. Prior to employing a rodenticide, non-lethal methods like proper sanitation and sealing any entry points to your home should be employed. Trapping is the next best method, as there is no chance for the dead rats to wind up stuck inside walls or below flooring. Additionally, some cities and states have laws that govern the type and amount of bait that can be used for a rat infestation. This is why your first step should be contacting a pest management professional, who will know your local laws and the best way to control your rat problem.

Now that you know what is in rat poison, you can see why its use should be left to professionals. If you are faced with a rat infestation and think it will require stronger methods of control, call Terminix®. Their pest management professionals can help you navigate your options for getting these rodents away from your home.