While trapping is generally recommended for controlling rats indoors, when the number of rats around a building is high, you might need to use toxic baits to achieve adequate control, especially if there is a continuous reinfestation from surrounding areas. |
Baits to control rodents are formulated with an attractant (generally food) and a rodenticide (toxin). Changes in rodenticide regulations went into effect in mid-2011 in an effort to prevent rodenticide hazards to wildlife and pets and to reduce accidental exposure to children. These federal EPA restrictions now permit manufacturers to produce, for sale to the general public, only wax block, gel, or paste rat and mouse baits that are packaged in ready-to-use, disposable bait stations. Agricultural producers and professional pest control personnel are able to obtain more types of rodenticides in various formulations, some of which are restricted use pesticides.
Anticoagulant Rodenticides. Anticoagulants are blood-thinning drugs that cause an animal's blood to lose the ability to clot, damaging capillaries and resulting in internal bleeding that is fatal. These active ingredients are used at very low levels and the onset of symptoms is delayed for several days, so the rodent doesn't avoid the bait because of its taste or the onset of illness. When prepared with good-quality cereals and other ingredients, anticoagulant baits provide good to excellent control when baits are fresh and when placed in suitable locations so as to attract rats.
Since not all rats will consume bait when it first becomes available, bait application directions typically recommend providing an uninterrupted supply of bait for at least 10 or 15 days or until evidence of rodent activity ceases. A rodent feeding on anticoagulant bait usually won't die until 2 to 6 days following ingestion of a lethal dose. This slow action is a safety advantage, allowing accidental poisoning to be treated before serious illness occurs.
The recommended strategy of bait application, which is often needed for optimum rodent control, can result in a rodent ingesting an overdose of the second-generation anticoagulants, which are more effective in part because they persist longer in the rodent's body than do the first-generation anticoagulants. Thus, they also have the potential to be hazardous to predators and scavengers, which may consume poisoned rodents. This secondary hazard from anticoagulants, as well as the primary hazard of nontarget animals directly ingesting rodent baits, is substantially reduced when baits are applied and used properly, according to label directions.
Homeowners will be able to purchase only prepackaged, ready-to-use bait stations containing the first-generation anticoagulants (i.e., warfarin, chlorophacinone, or diphacinone) or the nonanticoagulants bromethalin or cholecalciferol. The second-generation anticoagulants (i.e., brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone) have never been approved for use in field situations or for use against ground squirrels, meadow mice (Microtus), pocket gophers, or any other rodents except house mice, Norway rats, and roof rats. Some of the second-generation rodenticides now labeled for use by only by agricultural producers may be restricted to applications in and around agricultural buildings.
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