Can rat poison (rodenticides) hurt kids and pets?
Yes. Rat poisons or rodenticides are pesticides designed to kill rodents, like mice and rats. Rodents can carry diseases, damage property, and contaminate food. That’s why it is often important to control rodents effectively. It is also important to understand the risks of using rodenticides around children and pets.
If you suspect your child has handled or eaten a rodenticide, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away. For pets exposed to rodenticides, contact your veterinarian or an animal emergency resource.
All rodenticides can be toxic to mammals and birds when eaten. Most rodenticides are also toxic when breathed in or touched. People, pets, and wildlife can suffer from serious health effects after exposure to just a single dose of rodenticide.
Rodenticides are formulated as baits, which have ingredients that attract animals. For example, baits might contain peanut butter, molasses, or grains. These ingredients can be also attractive to children and pets.
Many chemicals used to kill rodents are called anticoagulants. These chemicals cause uncontrolled bleeding by affecting a rodent’s ability to form blood clots. Symptoms may not be visible for up to five days after exposure. If left untreated, poisoning can lead to death.
Some rodenticides work differently than anticoagulants, but can still be very toxic to rodents and other animals.
For example, bromethalin can harm the nervous system, zinc phosphide produces a lethal gas within the body, and cholecalciferol increases calcium levels in the blood, leading to organ failure.
Following the pesticide product label is the best way to reduce the risks. The label has instructions for how to apply the product properly and effectively. Some rodenticides can be used with bait stations. These devices allow rodents to access and eat the poison, but they keep children and pets out.
Rodenticide product labels typically provide warnings to keep the product out of reach of children. They might also include notes for veterinarians in case a pet eats the product.
In addition to reading the label, there are several ways to minimize risks.
If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.