How Does Rat Poison Work? What Does It Do to Rats?

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We all love rats when they scurry around in mazes looking for cheese. We DON’T love them, however, when they scurry around our kitchen counters looking for last night’s pizza crust. So, what are we going to do about it short of catching them with traps or our bare hands?

Rat poison.

How does rat poison work? Don’t let the size of these colorful pellets fool you—they can kill our four-legged scavenger friends by causing internal bleeding, adverse chemical reactions, a spike in their bodies’ vitamins, or severe dehydration that leads to death.

Unfortunately, not all rodenticides are made the same. Here are a few of the popular ones and their mechanism of action so that you can decide which one is best for your home.

Whichever one you opt for, please use rat poison responsibly!

What you will learn in this post:

  • How does rat poison work?
  • What are the common active ingredients in rat poison?
  • Frequently asked questions.

How Does Rat Poison Work

How Does Rat Poison Work – Breakdown of Different Rat Poison Ingredients

Rats are incapable of vomiting, so they have evolved a unique evolutionary trait that makes them suspicious of new food. When confronted with something strange such as a poison pellet, they will often refuse to indulge themselves or else watch some other rat eat it and wait to see if anything bad happens to the taster.

This is the reason why most rodenticides take several days before their killing power activates—the slow-acting nature of the drug fools the rat into thinking that its safe to consume, thereby bypassing their inherent paranoia.

How does rat poison work? Let’s take a look at the 5 common rat poisons types, which will answer that question for you!


Anticoagulants

Just like human beings, rats have a circulatory system that pumps blood all throughout their body. If they experience a wound, clotting factors will kick in so that the bleeding will stop and scar tissue can repair the injury.


How does it kill rats, and how long does it take?

Poison with anticoagulant properties will disrupt the clotting mechanism inside the rat while also causing damage to tiny blood vessels. Because the rat’s body can no longer stop the bleeding, it will essentially hemorrhage to death.

In terms of anticoagulants – how does rat poison work… the answer is grim!

This kind of rodenticide works over a few days, making it much more effective in terms of overcoming bait shyness. Slowly, the rat will turn sleepy and exhausted due to the continuous internal blood loss, making it look for sources of water to try to relieve itself until, finally, it keels over and dies.


Metal phosphide

This kind of poison is effective with large infestations due to it being cheap. Thus, it is commonly placed in outdoor containers where clusters of rats can feast on it. Most manufacturers also lace the pellets with a strong pungent scent that wards off other animals except the rats in order to avoid accidental poisonings.


How does it kill rats, and how long does it take?

Once ingested, the metal phosphide reacts with the rat’s stomach acid and produces a toxic byproduct called phosphide gas. This gas is fast-acting, killing rats within a day or so. For this reason, the bait is frequently given only after the rats have been served non-dangerous food in order to overcome its mistrust.


Hypervitaminosis

The concept behind this rat killer is to cause a spike in the natural concentration of vitamins, specifically the fat-soluble vitamin D2 and D3, which are responsible for regulating calcium and phosphate in the body.

Once the natural homeostatic levels of these compounds become skewed, internal damage quickly follows.


How does it kill rats, and how long does it take?

When the rat ingests too much vitamin D2 and D3, the amount of calcium in its body skyrockets. This causes calcium salts to build up along vital organs such as the heart, lungs, stomach, and kidneys. Calcium salts are sharp and will inevitably cause tearing and injury, as well as disrupt the normal functions of these tissues.

Most deaths happen within a week and after cumulative intakes of the poison. Some pellets are so concentrated that all it requires is a single dose, while others have lower strengths that necessitate repeated exposure.


Combination

In recent years, companies have sought to combine different methods of killing rats into a single form. For example, anticoagulants are often mixed with hypervitaminosis, leading to a more complex and fast-acting poison that can kill rodents quickly.

These combinations are also done in order to improve the chances of survival in cases of accidental poisoning—a dog, cat, or human that mistakenly eats a mixed rodenticide with lower individual doses might fare better than if they ate one that has a higher dose of a single toxin.


How does it kill rats, and how long does it take?

How does rat poison work? This is more a question of how do THESE poisons work. Because they combine several chemicals in one food pellet, these baits are so toxic that they can kill after a single dose. Rats often develop immunities to certain poisons, which makes combining them the only solution left when dealing with particularly resilient rodents.

Combination-types use the same mechanisms of action as mentioned above with regards to their separate components. Since they stack on top of each other, however, the rat is faced with blood loss, poisoning, and multiple organ failure simultaneously, leading to a swift death.


Organic Poisons

The proven effectiveness of manufactured rodenticides is also their downfall—without the proper precautions, accidental poisonings are always high. This is especially true if there are other animals and children around the house, something that parents and pet owners are especially wary about.

Those who are more concerned with safety choose to use organic poisons. These are rarely fatal to humans and other large animals, giving a sense of peace that is not found when dealing with other artificial rat products.


How does it kill rats, and how long does it take?

The most common organic rat poison is powdered corn cob. Corn cob can absorb large amounts of water, and when ingested by a rat, causes toxic dehydration to occur. The rat ultimately goes into shock and dies.

One downside of powdered corn cob is that it can take up to a week and repeated ingesting to finally work. The good news is that it is environmentally friendly, which means that even the rat’s carcass can be eaten by other animals without getting secondary infections themselves.


Rat Poison Considerations

Rat Poison Considerations

There are some considerations that you nee to be aware of when using rat poison.

Rat poison is dangerous. Not just for you, but for other animals that you are going targeting.

Before using it, you should learn about the dangers of using rat poison.


Conclusion

How does rat poison work? The answer is on this page, along with the most common ingredients used in rat poison.

Rats are a menace, but that doesn’t mean they’re particularly hard to get rid of. Poisons are found on the shelves of many groceries and pharmacies, making them widely available for use.

With this article, we hope that you now have a fair idea of what you want to buy in order to help prevent the spread of disease-carrying rodents in your house.

And if everything else fails, you can always adopt a cat.

Good luck!

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