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Do-It-Yourself Rat Control


Part 2: Chemical Rat Control (Poisoning)

Note: Setting poisons for rats is a hazardous activity that is best left to professionals. The following information is presented for informational purposes only. Always be sure to read and follow all label instructions when using any pesticide product. Baiting should be looked upon as an adjunct to exclusion and trapping, not as a replacement for non-chemical measures.

Disadvantages of Using Rodenticides

Controlling rats by with rodenticides has a number of disadvantages:

Advantages to Using Rodenticides

When used properly, rodenticide baits have several advantages as part of an effective rat control program. For example:

Professional exterminators usually use rodenticides primarily in rat-prone exterior areas, or inside buildings whose construction is such that dead rodents are unlikely to be trapped in inaccessible areas.

Proper Use and Placement of Rat Poisons

Rat Bait StationThe single most important part of using rodenticides is to make them inaccessible to children, pets, or non-target animals. The best way to do this is to use tamper-resistant bait stations.

Using bait stations not only reduces risk; it can increase effectiveness. Rodents are prey animals whose lives depend on avoiding predators. Bait stations provide a protected, enclosed place in which rodents feel more secure -- and in which they are more likely to eat a lethal dosage of bait. Rats are also finicky and won't readily eat spoiled food. Bait stations help keep the rodenticide fresh and palatable.

Bait Station Placement

The placement of bait stations is similar to that of traps. The stations are secured in place along rat travel paths. The rodenticide bait is then secured inside the station, and the station closed and locked.

Bait stations installed inside buildings may be secured using screws, nails, or construction adhesive. Exterior bait stations can be secured by attaching them the exterior walls of a building, or they can be secured to the ground using stakes, lag anchors, or earth anchors. All bait stations must be sufficiently secured that a child or domestic animal cannot move, shake, or open them.

Exterior bait stations are typically mounted along exterior walls of buildings, along fence lines, along wharfs and piers, and in other rat-prone areas adjacent to structures. They can also be anchored to the ground adjacent to rodent burrows, hidden in ground cover near shrubbery, under sheds, and in garbage storage areas. They should not be used in areas frequented by children or in places likely to be flooded.

Rodenticide Baits

Almost all of the rodenticides available to unlicensed individuals are anticoagulants. These baits are widely considered to be the less hazardous than other types of rat poisons because they are slow-acting and because they are more easily antidoted in the event of accidental ingestion. One of the better ones is Just One Bite Rodenticide, whose active ingredient (bromadialone) is the same used in many professional rat poisons.

Paraffinized anticoagulant baits come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit popular bait stations. Baits sealed in paraffin are more weather resistant than grain or meal baits, less likely to be tracked by rodents through sensitive areas, and may actually be better accepted by rats because they provide something for them to gnaw on.

Whatever bait is used, however, poisoning should be looked upon as only a small part of an overall rat control program. Sanitation, harborage reduction, and exclusion are the real keys to long-lasting protection against rodents.