Rat poison that is used nowadays is based on anticoagulant materials that affect the liver and destruct vitamin K.
Vitamin K plays an important part in the body’s blood clotting system. Once it has been destructed by the active ingredients in the bait (chemicals from the hydroxythiacoumarin and indandione family), the body’s blood clotting system is disabled resulting in internal bleeding and death.
Because the circulatory and clotting system in humans and rodents is similar, as in all warm blooded mammals, rat poison is extremely dangerous to children and pets.
There are five types of anticoagulant used today. Some are used to medically treat patients who need blood thinning (preventing the formation of blood clots after heart surgery) and others used for are extermination of mice and rats.
The two main types of anticoagulant used in Israel to exterminate mice and rats are:
- Bromadiolone – second generation anticoagulant that exterminates the rodent after two feedings.
- Brodificoum – a very strong anticoagulant that requires one feeding to cause death, due to its resistance to metabolic disintegration, making it problematic in terms of sub-poisoning (poisoning of an animal that digested a poisoned animal).
When using anticoagulants to exterminate rats or mice, one should take into account that it takes time, the time it takes for the anticoagulant to work is from five days and up to two weeks. The duration depends on three factorsQuantity – as the mouse or rat eat more of the poison, its action will be quicker
- Health – as the poisoned rodent’s health is better it will prolong the extermination process and vice versa, the poison will work faster in a weak rodent.
- Toxicity of the poison – as the active materials in the poison are more potent, the extermination process will be shorter.
Additionally, one should take into account that rats and mice will not eat the poison as soon as it is laid put. In some cases it might take two to three days until we see the poison is eaten (usually in places with plenty of food around such as food producing plants, hotels, restaurants, etc.). Once the poison is eaten, the countdown begins.
You might be asking yourself why do I need pest control that only starts working only after two weeks, I want the rats and mice gone now. Well, we understand the desire to get rid of rodents immediately, but in order to understand why exterminators use such slow and dangerous materials (for us as well) to exterminate rodents, you should know some facts about these pests.
Rats are among the most intelligent animals in nature (rats can be trained to perform complex tasks and they are even used to identify hidden mines). Therefore, when a rat notices that suddenly there are new piles of food in their area it will not eat all the food right away (unlike mice), it will rather taste only a little bit and if it does not suffer any health damage it will continue to eat it; when the food will make it feel bad then it will stop eating it and “notify” the rest of its pack not to eat that particular food. That is the reason rat poison is designed using anticoagulant, which starts to affect the rat only a few days after eating so the rat does not link between mortality and cause.
In case of anticoagulant poisoning in humans, you should contact the Center for Poisoning Care and Services and inform them of the amount and type of material consumed as well as treatment given. Treatment of anticoagulant poisoning is by injection of vitamin K.
Elad Uri, Agronomist and Certified Exterminator
Exterminator License Num. 1803
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