How Does Rat Poison Work?

Most of us have used rat poison at one point or another in our lives. Once we think we hear rats roaming around at night, see signs of their chewing on furniture, or smell their foul urine odor, that’s when we immediately set up the trap. And to be honest, it almost always works. 

But how does rat poison work at the end of the day? Simply put, rat poison contains Bromadiolone, a rodenticide pesticide that kills rodents like rats and mice. Bromadiolone also happens to be a blood thinner that functions by preventing blood clotting. With just one day’s feeding, Bromadiolone is able to kill rats and mice.

In this article, we’ll discuss more about rat poison, its repercussions, and what happens to rats or mice when they eat it. Keep reading.

What Is Rat Poison?

When rat poison is mentioned, the term usually refers to rodenticides, which are pesticides made to kill rodents that, of course, include rats and mice, but also extend to include squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, beavers, and more.

Three types of rodenticides are referred to as rat poison, and they include calcium releasers, acute toxins, and anticoagulants. The most common rat poison, Bromadiolone, falls under anticoagulants. Acute toxins are no longer safe to use and have been prohibited due to their high accidental poisoning rate.

What Is Rat Poison Made Of? 

Rat poison is typically made of the actual rodenticide along with an active ingredient that leads to the delivery mechanism being activated. They’re commonly sold as either rat poison pellets, treated grains or seeds, or powders that could be mixed in either water or paraffin blocks. Bromadiolone, for instance, comes in an odorless powder form that’s white to yellow in color.

What Happens to Rats After They Eat Rat Poison?

We usually perceive the end result that happens when rats eat rat poison, but what actually happens once they eat it? 

How Long Does It Take for a Rat to Die After Eating Poison?

It depends on the type of rodent bait that’s being used. Generally, the range is between 12 hours to a couple of days (2-5 days.) Some rat poisons require the rat or mouse to feed on them through several doses instead of just once, while others are lethal from the very first feeding.

The reason is due to the differences between the active ingredients in the rodent bait. For example, Bromadiolone prevents rats bodies’ from recycling Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. Accordingly, once rats run out of the vitamin, they bleed to death. This usually happens right from the first feeding, and the result depends on how fast the rats’ bodies exhaust the vitamin.

Do Rats Suffer When Poisoned?

Unfortunately, yes. As we’ve discussed, these rodent baits contain anticoagulants that prevent blood clotting. Accordingly, the rats or mice die slowly and painfully because they’re internally bleeding. Additionally, they face other severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, general weakness, and sometimes external bleeding.

Signs of Poisoning: How to Know When You’ve Successfully Poisoned a Rat 

As we’ve discussed, rats die approximately 5 days after they’ve eaten the poison. During that period, the evidence you witness may be very little – as little as observing that the poison is decreasing in quantity. Yet, it’s an essential occurrence since you need to be sure that the bait is active and that the rat or rats have actually found it.

However, by the end of the period, you should start picking up on visible signs that the poison was effective, such as the poison’s quantity remaining stable for a couple of days, indicating that the bait point hasn’t been visited in a while. 

More visible signs include rat droppings with a food-grade coloring agent (blue or red in color) that manufacturers add to rat poison to discourage children from eating it by mistake, the appearance of dead rats, or the disappearance of their fresh droppings in case they die underground or outdoors within two weeks of the poison being consumed.

Is Rat Poison Safe for Dogs?

Once again, this all boils down to the type of rat poison being used and its active ingredients. Moreover, it also depends on how much of the poison your dog ingests versus their weight, your dog’s medical history, and whether they’ve been exposed to rat poison before or not.

We wouldn’t necessarily say they’re “safe,” though. Actually, the most common signs of your dog ingesting rat poison would be internal bleeding, hypercalcemia (high calcium levels potentially causing kidney failure), hemorrhage, weakness, loss of appetite, or brain swelling, which are all very deadly.

These symptoms will start to show around 3-7 days after your dog consumes the poison, so be careful. And always remember that some types of rat bait poisoning can actually be treated depending on the case, so seek a vet once you notice any signs!

Does Rat Poison Work?

When all is said and done, yes, rat poison does work. It even works pretty effectively, too, especially when a rat infestation is involved. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that many of these rat poisons are being banned worldwide because of their potential harm to anyone who ingests them – be it humans or animals.

Not to mention, more and more methods of getting rid of rats are becoming available, and they’re much more humane. It would be best if you only relied on rat poison in instances where other methods, like trapping, have proved ineffective. 

And if you have to use rat poison, be careful of where you place it to avoid others’ exposure. That even applies if you’re using it outdoors so that other animals don’t get accidentally poisoned.

Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham
Hello, Andrew is the co-founder and lead editor for DailyPest.

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