Types of Rat Poison: Which Is Safe for People?


It’s indisputable that rat poisons are acclaimed to be so effective because they are lethal in their outcome. Composed of various chemicals, standard and modern rodenticides are becoming more and more sophisticated, completing their sole task – eradication and using newer forms, like rat poison pellets, granules, and ultrasonic repellents.

Types of Rat Poison: Which Is Safe for People?
Pestfreenl (CC0), Pixabay

The rat poison of 50 years ago and the products we are using today are two drastically different things. Yes, rodenticides have become safer and less toxic, leaving some room for health assurance. However, a question still remains – is there any poison that humans shouldn’t fear at all? Well, let’s investigate it and see what we can find.

Rat Poison (aka Rodenticide)

Created with the same traits and aims as pesticides, rodenticides are a group of chemicals used for pest control. Specifically designed for larger animals, rodents, such substances are effective against a whole array of critters. And while rat poison is only one kind of treatment in that vast poisonous group, it, normally, takes up most of the commercial products on the market.

On the other hand, a treatment that can kill a rat will, most likely, bring down a squirrel or a hog. The trick here is that rodenticides don’t work on the spot but require a prolonged period of consumption to come into force. Consequently, poison starts to kick in in 2-4 days after the initial consumption. But why?

Because rodents are highly resistant to all kinds of food, due to their complex digestion system, they can grind down almost anything. Only after an extended period of consumption, a rodenticide can harm their digestion system, then the bloodstream, and, eventually, the brain.

Active Ingredients

Fortunately, rats and other critters are susceptible to a variety of chemicals, and humans have exposed their weak spots. There are so many of the chemicals, that it’s hard to keep track of what manufacturers use in their treatment. On the other hand, there are a couple that have proven highly effective when it comes to large critters.

#1 Anticoagulants

Anticoagulating poisons are the primary choice of people who have had enough of it with rats. The chemical uses a specific blockage chemical, which affects the bloodstream. Depriving a pest of Vitamin K, the chemical causes it to lose its capacity to clot blood, which leads to internal bleeding and inexorable death.

Most poison products include anticoagulants or similar permutations since they have been around for a while, though their effect is visible in one or two weeks. They are extremely dangerous not only to rats but also to pets and humans. Therefore, the poison is often recommended for commercial building pest control.

#2 Metal phosphides

Used as a substitute for anticoagulation, phosphides guarantee even a higher chance of rat extirpation. When the substance is consumed, it gets into the digestive tract, where it combines with the rat’s own phosphides. As a result of the chemical reaction, an abundance of poisonous gases is released, contaminating the organs, bloodstream, and the brain.

Because the substance has a specific ‘digestive’ stench, it is always combined with rat fodder to hide the smell. Covered in bait, the phosphides often come in granules to accelerate spreading among other rodents. When activated, it takes around 3 days for the poison to terminate a specimen.

#3 Hypercalcemia-causing substances

Just like for humans, Vitamins play a crucial part in rodents’ body functioning. Contrastingly, an abundance of Vitamins, like D3 and D2, (if they are supplied directly and constantly) causes internal crystallization. The walls of the main organs get harder, building up layers of calcium and other solid elements. Consequently, a critter is inflicted by necrosis and suffers eventual death.

Also, many manufacturers back up the effect with other chemicals, like anticoagulants. They speed up the process and decrease a pest’s resilience to different toxins. Normally, death comes within one week after consumption.

#4 Natural poisons

Some people try to use more humane ways of getting rid of rats by utilizing various natural components. For this, some manufactures base their bait and treatment exclusively on herbs and Vitamins. Peppermint, ammonia, boric acid, and other things are believed to show some results when it comes to eradicating or deterring critters. However, their effectiveness is nowhere near that of chemicals.

So Which Is Safer?

As you can see, there is no specific product that would combine lethality for rats and harmlessness for humans. Because rats are very resilient and adaptable, they have accustomed to various poisons nature has elaborated. As a result, humans have to come up with new, less tolerable treatments.

But when it comes to toxicity, we can group the risks of pest control products and their composition as follows:

  1. Natural poisons. They are the least toxic for humans and animals, having no substantial impact on the internal organs or bloodstream. Nonetheless, the same applies to rats that, normally, are deterred by the smell but not killed.
  2. Anticoagulants. More toxic and quite lethal, the substance is a proven method against rodents. It can thin their blood, leaving them defenseless against bleeding.
  3. Hypercalcemia-causing substances. Toxic and irreversible once in a rat’s body, the chemicals thicken the layers of Calcium and damage internal organs. Though poisoning with such chemicals is still life-threatening for humans, it can be prevented.
  4. Metal phosphides. This one is extremely toxic and completely lethal. The poisonous gases created in a rat’s digestive tract are trapped there due to the in-body phosphide mutations, which has a very similar effect on humans.

There Are More Rats in Some Cities Than People

Despite the cruelty rat poison may seem to bring, it’s a necessary means of securing your house and family. Rodents are known for their resilience and infectiousness, spreading diseases, destruction, and anti-sanitary conditions wherever they are.

It matters little which treatment you choose to apply, as long as it works well and rids you of rats and other pests. So make up your mind, pick a product, and make sure to follow the safety guidelines that come with it. They might be annoying but they save lives and households.

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