Below, we’ll discuss the top rat poison options: you’ll get the scoop on the best chemical products as well as non-chemical and no-kill means of rat control.
We’ll also discuss step-by-step tips for rat disposal and practical methods for preventing rodents from coming back.
Chemical rat poisons
Here are a few chemical rat poison methods and how they work:
A popular anticoagulant bait is the JT Eaton 709-pn Bait Block—this first-generation anticoagulant bait has specially formulated blocks with a peanut butter flavor to attract and eliminate mice and rats. Fumarin and warfarin are also popular rodenticidal anticoagulants that kill rats within a few days.
Perhaps the most common type of rat poison, anticoagulants contain chemicals that deplete Vitamin K—an important component in blood clotting. When a rat ingests an anticoagulant, the poison suppresses the growth of Vitamin K in the intestinal tract and quickly diminishes vitamin levels within a matter of days, causing internal bleeding.
If you’re unsure about what type of bromethalin product to purchase, try Tomcat Rodenticide with Bromethalin—it can eliminate rats and mice within two days of ingestion. Take precautions and consider using a chemical-free option, such as traps, if you have pets in your home. Bromethalin is known to poison other animals.
This is a fast-acting neurotoxin that targets the brain and liver, and damages a rat’s central nervous system after being ingested. It eliminates rats within a few hours of consumption by causing a buildup of sodium in liver cells and fluid accumulation in the brain.
Consider using Ramik Green Bait Packs which contain pellets that can be used indoors and outdoors for controlling rats, mice, and other rodents.
Calciferols contain compounds that affect the levels of Vitamin D and calcium in a rodent’s body. High levels of Vitamin D will cause a rat to develop hypercalcemia—a condition where the calcium level is raised to such a degree that the stomach, kidneys, lungs, blood vessels, and heart are all damaged by calcification. The condition will cause rodent death within a week of ingestion.
Zinc or metal phosphides
This type of rat poison is excellent at controlling rats and mice. Note that this option is very poisonous to pets and people.
Zinc or metal phosphides will react with a rodent’s stomach acid to form a toxic gas called phosphine that kills the rodent within a few days. These active ingredients are often found in rat baits that have strong garlic-like odors, which attract rodents but repel other mammals.
Alternatives to rat poison
If you want to opt for a safer method in getting rid of rats, consider the following non-toxic options:
- Box traps—These traps are designed to catch a rat without injuring it. Just place rat bait in the trap and wait. When the rat enters, it will knock over the support for the door and trap itself inside.
- Single- and multiple-entrance snap traps—These spring traps are the most traditional and reusable option. A properly sprung trap will kill a rat instantly. Look for traps and rat bait stations that can be cleaned easily, like metal or heavy-duty plastic traps.
- Electrocuting traps—While these traps may be a bit more expensive than other methods, they kill rodents quickly. Traps like the Victor Electronic Mouse Trap-M2524S deliver a high-voltage shock that eliminate rodents in five seconds.
- Glue traps—Often known as “sticky traps,” glue traps are a popular alternative to get rid of mice and rats. Rodents become trapped in a glue-like substance, leaving them unable to escape.
How does rat poison work?
Depending on the type of rat poison, or rodenticide, you use—whether it be anticoagulants, phosphides, bromethalin, or calciferols—the poison will work in a variety of ways. Note that most rat poison is harmful to children and pets. Consider chemical-free options, like rat traps, if you’re worried about the effects of rodenticides on humans or other animals.
How to get rid of dead rats
Materials to dispose of rats
- Rubber gloves
- Plastic bag
- Box or bucket
- Soap and water
It’s important to get rid of a dead rodent as soon as possible because it can transmit a number of diseases to humans. Regardless of which method you use to get rid of a rat or mouse, follow these steps to dispose of it properly:
- Wear rubber gloves.
- Spray the dead rat and surrounding area with disinfectant.
- Remove the rat from the trap and place it in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and be careful not to push any air out of the bag—doing so may spread bacteria. Either throw away the rat trap (if it’s a single-use trap) or clean and store it away for later use.
- Place the bag with the rat in another bag and seal it firmly.
- Throw the bag in the trash and take out your garbage as soon as possible.
- While still wearing gloves, wash your hands with a disinfectant.
- Remove the gloves and throw them in the trash.
- After removing the gloves, wash your hands with soap and warm water.
How do I get rid of a rat that’s still alive?
If you use a box trap, there’s a high probability that the rat will be alive after being caught. Follow these instructions to safely get rid of a live rat:
- Put on rubber gloves before touching the trap or rat.
- Inspect the trap for signs of a live rat (you’ll probably hear squeaking or scratching sounds coming from the box).
- Place the trap in a box or bucket and transport it at least two miles away from your home to prevent the rat from returning.
- To release the rat, turn the trap upside down so it opens downward and keeps the rat from running toward you when released.
- When you return home, clean the trap and remove any feces or debris.
- Reset the trap, if needed, or store it away for future use.
- While still wearing your gloves, wash your hands with a disinfectant.
- Remove the gloves and discard them in the trash.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Safety precautions when using rat poison
Most rat poisons, including the ones listed above, are toxic to humans and animals and can cause hemorrhaging. In addition, many rodenticides also present a secondary poisoning risk to animals that scavenge the dead corpses of rats. If you choose to use rat poison, be sure to keep both your pets and children away from the substances at all times.
Symptoms of rat poisoning
If you believe your child or pet has accidentally ingested rat poison, look for the following symptoms. Note that symptoms may vary based on the ingredients in a poison.
- Lethargic movements or intolerant to exercise
- Coughing and difficulty breathing (may be caused by pulmonary bleeding)
- Weakness or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Nose bleeds or visible blood in urine or stools
If your child or pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact a poison control center immediately or call 911.
How to prevent future rodent infestations
Infestations typically occur in the fall, when temperatures begin to drop and rodents are seeking warmth and shelter. Start taking the following precautionary measures at the end of summer and maintain these tactics throughout the fall and winter.
- Eliminate sources of food, water, and shelter for rodents—put pet food away and get in the habit of cleaning your kitchen and dining room regularly to avoid leaving behind crumbs and food scraps. These actions will deter pests.
- Make sure garbage bags are tightly tied and secured—open or torn garbage bags can attract rodents to your discarded food. When your trash is full, take it out as soon as possible.
- Seal existing holes—rodents can enter your home through holes in windows and doors, as well as cracks and crevices in your foundation. Properly seal any inside or outside holes with caulk.
- Call a pro to evaluate—you can always call in a pest control professional who can inspect your hope for areas that pose potential risk for rat infestation.
Rat problems: DIY or hire?
When rat poison and alternative methods fail, call a certified pest control company to eliminate your rat issue. While some exterminators may use chemicals in their remediation efforts, there are others that offer safer, eco-friendly options to get rid of rodents. Read this guide to the cost of rat removal to help you make your decision.
- Rat poison will only kill the rats that ingest it and may not be effective for larger infestations
- Alternatives to rat poison, like individual traps, may be time-consuming when trying to get rid of an entire rat population
- A professional exterminator will be able to identify the extent of your rat infestation
- Professionals will consult with you and create a pest management approach to rid your home of existing rodents
- You have the opportunity to choose between chemical remediation efforts or safer, eco-friendly options
More Pest Control Advice