Types of Rat Poison

There are a few types of rat poison, referred to as rodenticides. These include calcium releasers, acute toxins, and anticoagulants.

Calcium releasers and acute toxins are the least messy options. Calcium releasers increase the amount of calcium in the bloodstream, which causes rats’ internal organs to shut down. Acute toxins release small amounts of poison into the bloodstream over a short period of time until the amount of poison in the blood is lethal.

Anticoagulants can be particularly gruesome, both for rats and for those people who have to dispose of the rat carcasses These poisons inhibit blood clotting, causing internal bleeding until the rat expires.

Toxic vs. Nontoxic 

Make no mistake: poisons are toxic. The difference between toxic and nontoxic rat poisons has nothing to do with their effects on rats. It refers to poisons’ toxicity to humans and other animals. Few poisons are categorized as nontoxic, and, to be sure, you still need to handle them carefully. Read these poisons’ warning labels and use them appropriately.

Though they may not kill you, exposure to high doses of chemicals in nontoxic poisons cause serious side effects, like flushing and a drop in blood pressure. For these reasons, keep nontoxic products in the same safe areas that you would keep toxic rat poisons in.

Slow-Acting vs. Fast-Acting

There is a considerable difference between slow-acting and fast-acting rat poisons, and it’s not just the amount of time it takes for a rat to die. Fast-acting poison will kill a rat faster (with a proper dose) than a slow-acting poison, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Fast-acting poisons are suitable for significant infestations because they can quickly kill many rats within a day or two. However, rats can learn to avoid fast-acting poisons if they see other rats become sick after eating them. Slow-acting poisons don’t affect rats right away, which means they won’t make a correlation between the food they eat and feeling ill.

The California legislature is trying to ban the use of fast-acting rodenticides altogether. The reason? A rat that dies from fast-acting poison will have high levels of poison in its carcass, potentially poisoning the next animal that comes along and eats it. This could start a dangerous cycle that affects wildlife several links up the food chain.