The Dangers of Using Rodent Poison
No one wants to share their home with mice and rats. They are unclean animals that often carry with them the potential for disease as well as being a potentially serious nuisance, whether tampering with and eating your food or chewing and scratching up your home and walls, which may include electrical wiring that can lead to a fire.
However, getting rid of rodents can prove tricky. One way people approach the problem is by baiting traps with types of poisons specifically designed to kill off rats and mice. The issue with using poisons is that, obviously, they are poisonous. If you live alone, this may not present much of a problem for you.
However, if you have small children and/or pets, this suddenly becomes a more serious consideration as you want to rid the home of pests but not your pets and children by way of accidental poisoning. It is best to arm yourself with knowledge about the dangers of using rodent poison to make an informed decision.
Learn the Different Types of Rodent Poison
Most commercially available rodent poisons come in two types. There are anticoagulants and Bromethalin poisons. These each act to bring about the demise of your varmint intruders in very different ways.
- Anticoagulants – Anticoagulants kill off rodents by gradually thinning their blood. This way the mouse or rat who eats the poison cannot deduce from where the poison came. It acts slowly so as not to kill the rodent at the source of the poison, as a dead mouse would warn other mice to steer clear.
- Newer anticoagulant poisons that acted faster by inducing lethal levels of blood thinning at a more rapid pace have been removed from the market. Only the older anticoagulant poisons that require multiple feedings are still available to consumers.
- Bromethalin – Bromethalin poisons are a type of neurotoxin that causes swelling around the brain. It is also difficult to detect through blood toxicology, particularly at the onset. By the time symptoms manifest themselves, it is often very difficult to treat.
Health Risks to Children and People
Devices used to bait, trap, and eliminate rodents such as ball traps or other containers laced with poisons can pose serious consequences to children living in the home. It is important to make sure you place traps with poison in areas that see the most rodent activity, but you also want to keep them clear of areas in which your young children tend to play.
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Young children are naturally curious and will pick up just about anything. Very young kids also tend to put things in their mouths, and rat poison is typically sweet to taste making it even more hazardous to children, as they may view sweet-tasting pellets as candy to be eaten. Over the past decade, the number of incidents involving children ingesting poison intended for the elimination of rodents in their homes has risen approximately 40 percent.
Full-grown humans may also experience serious effects due to exposure to rat poisons. Because rats have become resistant to some poisons many manufacturers have made their poisons more potent, which affects both the rats and humans more acutely.
Furthermore, the full effect of ingesting a rat poison may take as long as two weeks to manifest. Some of the effects of ingesting rat poison include:
- Hemorrhage – The anticoagulants in rodent poisons may cause bleeding from the nose and gums and cause large bruises that appear all over the body of the person who ingested the poison.
- Cardiopulmonary – Some poisons, such as zinc phosphide, are still available commercially and can cause tightness of the chest, difficulty breathing and a cough. Some affected may develop pulmonary edema. These types of poisons also may cause cardiomyopathy, may compromise the heart muscles or cause an irregular heartbeat.
- Liver failure – Zinc phosphides may also cause liver damage, which can result in jaundice as well as brain damage due to the buildup of the toxins.
- Convulsions – Strychnine, which is available only to trained personnel, may bring about convulsions within 20 minutes of ingestion. Zinc phosphides may also induce convulsions as well.
- Shock – Excessive blood loss may result in shock as the blood volume decreases. Low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, sweating, low body temperatures, kidney and/or brain damage, loss of consciousness, coma and death may all result as well.
Dangers Rodent Poison Poses for Your Pets
Much like children, the pets in your home do not know that you may be baiting traps for rodents with poison. Therefore, you must place traps baited with poison very carefully so that your pets are not exposed to them or left unattended in rooms where they may reach the poison. Even if you think you have placed your traps in your home in a safe area and out of reach of your pets, you should count on a clever dog or cat being able to reach even the traps that are placed with utmost deftness and stealth.
The two distinct types of poison most used for killing mice and rats affect your pets differently. The Bromethalin poisons cause the brain to swell and is very difficult to diagnose. When symptoms do eventually present themselves, it may often be much too late to mount any effective therapy.
However, Bromethalin poisons typically require larger doses than anticoagulants to sicken a pet, so depending on the size and age of a pet, they may not fall ill at all. Some of the signs of Bromethalin poisoning include:
- Changes in behavior.
- Refusal to eat or drink.
If you know you have deployed rodent traps baited with Bromethalin poison around your house and/or yard and you begin to notice your animal pressing its head against walls or furniture or your pet circles when it walks, you may want to check your traps and see if the poison is missing, which could indicate that your pet ingested it. No medications or drug therapies can reverse the effects of Bromethalin poisons, but if you reach medical help at your vet early enough, you could make sure that your pet receives proper treatment to save its life.
Anticoagulant poison prevents blood from clotting and induces microhemorrhages in the gastrointestinal tracts, chest cavity, brain or in other parts of the body once ingested. Acute toxicity of anticoagulant rodent poison has presenting symptoms that include difficulty breathing, increased heart rate and their behavior may become erratic.
Fortunately, unlike Bromethalin poisons, the anticoagulants do have an antidote available. It is administered with a transfusion of whole blood and most animals recover fully and quickly.
Health Risks Posed by Dead Rats and Mice
Bromethalin poisons typically kill vermin within a few hours while anticoagulant poisons, by their nature, may take as many as six days to kill a rat. In both cases, the rats have plenty of time to scurry back to their nest and certainly away from where the trap was laid. This means that they may expire inside a wall or some other hard to reach place and lay dead and decomposing.
This produces a very foul odor as they decompose. Because rats are also notorious for carrying diseases, you will have to be careful when disposing of the carcass to make sure you do not contract anything to which the animal may have been exposed.
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