As South Africans, we have all encountered the problem of rodent populations in and around our homes, gardens and businesses. Whether you have seen the common signs of rodent infestation, such as droppings, gnawed objects or holes in the walls, or you have heard the scurrying and scratching sounds in the night, you know how quickly these pests can reproduce and become a nuisance.
One of the most effective ways to control rodent populations is by using rat poisons, which are chemical substances designed to kill rats and mice by disrupting their bodily functions. In this article, we will explore the different types of rat poisons used in South Africa and how they work.
Types of Rat Poisons Commonly Used in South Africa
There are several types of rat poisons available in South Africa, each containing different active ingredients that target the rodents’ physiology in various ways. The three main categories of rat poisons are anticoagulant rodenticides, acute rodenticides, and aluminium phosphides.
1. Anticoagulant Rodenticides
Anticoagulant rodenticides are the most commonly used type of poison and work by interfering with the blood’s ability to clot. When rats and mice ingest anticoagulant bait, the active ingredients block the production of vitamin K, which is necessary for blood to clot properly. Without enough vitamin K, the rodents bleed internally and die within a few days.
One of the advantages of anticoagulant rodenticides is that they do not cause immediate death, so rodents are more likely to consume multiple doses, increasing the effectiveness of the poison. However, this delayed action also means that rodents may move away from the area before they die, potentially leading to secondary poisoning of scavenging wildlife that feed on dead rodents.
The most common second-generation anticoagulants used in South Africa are bromadiolone, brodifacoum, and difethialone. These poisons require a lethal dose of around 0.005-0.01% in the bait, and toxic effects can be seen in rodents within 2-4 days. Secondary poisoning can occur up to a few weeks after ingestion, depending on the bait concentration and rodent population density.
If you suspect that your pet or wildlife has consumed anticoagulant rodenticides, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention, as they may require blood transfusions to restore their calcium levels.
2. Acute Rodenticides
Acute rodenticides are fast-acting poisons that cause death within a few hours of ingestion. People often used these types of rat poisons to control severe infestations or in situations where immediate results are needed. Bromethalin is a great example of a fast-acting rodenticide.
How it works is it causes cerebral edema and muscle spasms by disrupting the sodium channels in the rodent’s brain. Other acute rodenticides you can find in South Africa are barium carbonate and strychnine poisoning, which interfere with the nervous system and cause convulsions, seizures, and paralysis.
The downside of Unfortunately, these types of rat poisons can also target animals and humans if not used correctly. This is why it is a good idea to call in pest control experts with the know-how to safely administer them to protect people, animals, and wildlife from accidental exposure.
3. Aluminium Phosphides
Aluminium phosphides are chemical poisons that release toxic phosphine gas when exposed to moisture. These poisons are often used in enclosed spaces or burrows, where rodents are likely to nest. Aluminium phosphides work by weakening rodents’ internal organs, including their digestive system and liver, and reducing their ability to absorb calcium from food. This depletion of calcium levels leads to acute liver failure, and rodents die within a few hours of ingestion.
Although aluminium phosphides are highly effective in controlling rodent populations, they also pose a high risk of exposure to humans and pets. Inhaling phosphine gas can cause severe respiratory distress, while dermal exposure can lead to chemical burns and blistering of the skin. It is essential to handle these poisons with extreme care and that you call in professional pest controllers to work with effective concentrations of this type of rat poison.
Impact on Scavenging Wildlife
Rat poisons pose a significant risk to scavenging wildlife, including birds of prey, foxes, and feral cats. These animals can easily be exposed to rodenticides if they eat contaminated rats or get a hold of the bait. The impact of rodenticide exposure on scavengers like these will depend on the type of poison, the bait concentration, and the animal’s size and health.
A great example is anticoagulant rodenticides that can accumulate in the tissues of animals, leading to slow-acting secondary poisoning. you won’t see immediate symptoms, but it can make them sick over a longer while. But if they get exposed to acute rodenticides like bromethalin, it can cause cerebral edema and muscle spasms on the same day and hour they were exposed.
Did you know that the widespread use of rat poison has led to a decline in scavenging wildlife populations around the world and also in South Africa? That is why it is so important to use rat poisons responsibly and to call in rat poisoning experts like Mostert to be safe.
How to Tell if My Pet or Child Has Been Poisoned by Rat Poison
Rat poison can cause different types of poisoning, depending on the active ingredients in the poison. The most common types of rodenticide poisoning are anticoagulant bait poisoning, bromadiolone poisoning, barium carbonate poisoning, and magnesium phosphide poisoning.
This type of poisoning is caused by the ingestion of rodenticides containing second-generation anticoagulants, such as brodifacoum and bromadiolone. You can look out for clinical signs of this type of poisoning such as lethargy, weakness, shortness of breath, and pale gums. In severe cases, pets may require blood transfusions to replace lost blood. If you suspect exposure, you can check the active ingredient in any rat poison you have used and keep an eye out for these symptoms.
This specific type of anticoagulant poisoning is more potent and longer acting than other anticoagulant rodenticides. Bromadioline is a second-generation anticoagulant that requires a lower toxic dose than other anticoagulant baits, making it a popular choice for pest control professionals.
But it also poses a higher risk of secondary poisoning, as it can accumulate in the tissues of dead rodents and persist for several months. You can look out for symptoms like bleeding gums, nose bleeds, blood in urine or stool, abdominal pain, and large bruising.
Barium Carbonate Poisoning
You can get this type of poisoning if you ingest rodenticides containing barium carbonate. It’s a toxic heavy metal that affects the central nervous system. If you are worried about possible barium poisoning, you can look for symptoms like muscle spasms, convulsions, and respiratory distress. It is important to note that the symptoms can be fatal within a few hours of ingestion, so it is better to take fast action if you suspect barium carbonate poisoning.
Magnesium Phosphide Poisoning
This fast-acting rodenticide releases phosphine gas when it is exposed to moisture or acid in the stomach. It is a highly toxic poison that affects the respiratory and circulatory systems, and the symptoms of poisoning can appear within minutes of ingestion.
You can look for symptoms of magnesium phosphide poisoning like a headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and seizures, It can also be fatal within only a few hours.
What To Do If You Are Experiencing Symptoms After Contact with Rat Poison
Rat poisons are powerful tools in controlling rodent populations, but they also pose significant risks to humans, pets, and wildlife. Different types of rat poisons work in different ways, and the clinical signs of poisoning can vary depending on the active ingredients in the poison. If you suspect that your pet or a wild animal has consumed rat poison, it is important to contact poison control or your veterinarian immediately.
How to Get Rid of Rats Safely
Experts in pest control such as those working for the various branches around the country at Mostert have experiential and studied knowledge of the safe and effective use of rat poisons to address rodent infestations. We know how to use rat poison products in a safe way, when to apply which types, and how to avoid rat poisoning in dogs, pets, and children. You can get professional advice or a free rat poisoning quote from Mostert Pest Control today to get rid of rats in South Africa.