August 29, 2016

Say NO to Poison [Reconsider Poison for Pest Control]

By Ryan Earl

Let’s face it: poison is one of the cheapest ways get rid of a rodent in your home.
But will poisoning rodents in your home keep the next one from coming in? 
Absolutely not.

Find out why you should reconsider using poison for pest control. 

Your Guide to Understanding the Dangers of Poison

Consider The Reason Why You Have Rodents In Your Home

Contrary to popular belief, uncleanliness is not a key factor for rodent problems. Rodents want a place that keeps them safe from the elements and predators.
Rodents need a central location that is close to their preferred sources of water and food.  Rodents need a place they can depend on to raise their young, generation after generation.  If you find you have rodents in your home, you have a place that provides these key factors: warmth, safety, food and water.

How Much Do You REALLY Know About Poison?

Using poison is a surefire way of causing a whole slew of dangerous and unnecessary consequences.

Do you really know how a poison will affect the target animal?  Are you aware of what it may do to non-target animals? 

The following delves a little deeper into poisons and why you should avoid using them at all costs.

What Is A Non-Target Species?

Say you have roof rats in a crawl space...what are the chances that the poison you set up won't get to the environment outside? 

Squirrels in the attic?  Is there a possibility you could poison more lifeforms than the specific animal you're after?  Yes, poison will affect wildlife you did not have in mind. 

In the examples above, squirrels and roof rats are the target animal. Non-target animals could be any animal you did not intend to harm.  Rodents have a variety of predators who could also be poisoned.  Owls, hawks, weasels, snakes, foxes, coyotes are all examples of natural predators to rodents.  Cats, both feral and domestic, and dogs will also naturally hunt rodents.  Using poison will put all of them in danger.

The ASPCA sites rodenticides as a top threat to pets in the US.  According to the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), "Rat Poison" as the number one cause for pet emergencies in the following states: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Kentucky.

Poison Does Not Stop At Harming Animals

Children are also susceptible to being seriously harmed or killed by the use of rodenticides.  In 2013, it was stated that 15,000 phone calls were being made every year regarding children who had ingested rodenticides in the US.  That's 15,000 instances where a child could have been safe. 

Between the years of 1999 and 2003, the EPA reported that 25,549 children under the age of six had ingested rodenticide in the US.  Imagine what the numbers would be world-wide.  When you use poison, all species are a potential target.  

There is no safe place for poison.

What Does A Rodenticide Do Specifically?

Rodenticides fall in any of these chemical categories:

Angicoagulants—SLOW DEATH (1-2wks). These poisons will disrupt the “Vitamin K cycle” in the rodent. This cycle is essential for specific proteins to form blood clots. Anticoagulants will cause damage to blood vessels, resulting in hemorrhaging of the entire body. This exhausts the animal in weakness and its inability to heal. The liver, an organ essential for detoxing the body, is disabled of its functions. The rodent ultimately collapses of hypovolemic circuiatory shock and internal hemorrhaging.

Metal Phosphides—Fast Death (1-3 days). Zinc phosphide is the most common compound used in this category. Once eaten, a chemical reaction between the acids in the rodent’s stomach + the phosphides create phosphine gas. Because rodents naturally lack the ability of a gag-reflex, once the bait is eaten it is processed. This highly toxic gas ultimately enters the bloodstream, causing damage to the blood vessels and decreased amounts of oxygen to all major organs. The animal suffers from loss of coordination, convulsions, paralysis, brain damage, capillary breakdown and again ending in cardiovascular collapse.

Hypercalcemia—Death Varied (1-7 days). This category involves the use of Vitamin D. We know Vitamin D as a great benefit to our systems, however when taken in lethal quantities it causes hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia involves dangerously high calcium levels in the bloodstream (one would arrive at this when too much Vitamin D is in the system, allowing calcium to be absorbed.) When ingested in such large quantities, the absorbed calcium levels will cause severe damage to the stomach wall, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. These tissues and organs will deteriorate due to calcium crystal formations, and ultimately the heart and kidneys will fail, and the animal will have internal bleeding.

Knowing how rodenticides will hurt an animal is an important step in understanding why you should not use them at all.

Why Using Poison Is Ineffective

Not convinced by the known dangers of using poison?  Read on for the ineffectiveness of using poison. 

Using poison requires you to use bait. Having to bait your house will lure other unwanted guests, causing more work and more issues. If the rodent does consume the poison, the amount of poison will determine how many days before dying. This will be very painful to the animal, and like most injured animals, they will seek solitude in their discomfort. This ultimately would lead to having a dead rodent in an impossible part of your home. Retrieval could be difficult and costly! If the dead rodent is left alone, it could take up to 6 weeks, possibly more, for the animal to fully decompose. Decomposition depends on the temperature, access for insects and size of the animal.

Rodents are not always easily convinced to ingest poison.  Rodents are scavengers, and generally "taste" their food to see if suitable to eat.  Poisons with any funny odors or strange flavors have a high probability of being discarded by the rodent.  Say the rodent does decide that the poisoned food source is suitable to eat.  Keep in mind that rodents store their food for later use, especially in colder seasons.  You may have to wait some time before the proper dosage is ingested by the rodents.

To review, poisons require bait, and baiting can invite more animals to your home. Rodents may not take the bait at all. Or, if they do, rodents may not ingest it immediately.  If the rodent does ingest the poison, it may seek refuge in a difficult area to reach in your home.  Removal can be costly and require repairs after the extraction.  

What if the rodent ingests the poison and does not die?  Some rodents will develop a sort of tolerance for certain poisons. Breeding will produce a new generation of adapted pests. Adapted pests would mean a need for stronger poisons, more dangerous mixes, and new terrifying results. This would greatly increase the possibility of harming a loved one and allowing a stronger breed of rodent to succeed. Your problem would only become worse.

In learning more about the horrendous effects of poisons and how they cause such agony before death, you are urged to seek alternative solutions. Whether your concerns lay in finding more humane ways of dealing with such animals, or if you simply care about your family and own current state, there are other ways to solve the situation without imparting harm to anyone, and with lasting effects.