Caution with rat baits
If you are trying to control rats, you need to do so with a little thought. Naturally you will want to ensure the safety of your children, pets and wildlife in your area. In addition, I hope that you would want to dispatch the rats as quickly and humanely as possible.
Why control rats?
Rats are tenacious, wise and cunning critters. They have been plaguing people for thousands of years and over that time have really learnt how to be â€˜as cunning as a ratâ€™. Rat baits pose a danger to pets and wildlife, rodenticides are dangerous and the danger to pets and wildlife with rodenticides comes from either primary poisoning or from secondary poisoning.
Primary poisoning is caused when a pet eats the rat bait directly. The most common way this occurs is when a pet gets into a container of bait that has been incorrectly stored. None of us are infallible and sometimes we can forget that we have a container of rat bait on the shelf in a shed. If the packet is accidentally knocked to the ground, spilling its contents, a pet will readily eat it.
Secondary poisoning is different. It occurs when an animal eats a poisoned rat. The residue of bait in the ratâ€™s stomach is the cause of the toxicity. Often this occurs when an affected rat, perhaps slower and more lethargic than a normal one and thereby less able to defend itself, falls victim to a dog or cat or to a bird of prey such as an owl, a hawk or a falcon.
What are the signs of anticoagulant poisoning?
Most rat baits that you can get from the supermarket are based on anticoagulants. If a pet is affected by an anticoagulant poison, the signs of the toxicity may not be evident for several days. The main signs of such toxicity relate to anaemia from blood loss. The blood can be lost from many areas of the body but commonly it is seen in bloodstained faeces, blood appearing in the saliva or appearing from the nose. Breathlessness, from blood pooling in the chest cavity, is a common sign also. Weakness is very common and the gums and tongue are usually very pale due to blood loss and the resultant anaemia. If caught early your veterinarian will give an injection to make your pet vomit and will treat with Vitamin K and other medications, this treatment is usually effective.
Store rat baits carefully
To minimise the risk of accidental poisoning of pets, wildlife and children, the baits should be placed in areas that are accessible only to the rodents. Safe places are in the roof cavity, between walls, and along known rat runs. Rat baits should be stored in their own container which itself is placed inside another sealed container out of reach of pets and children. Poisons and pets donâ€™t mix. No matter what rat poison you use, it is dangerous and needs to be used with utmost caution. If you think your pet has eaten some rat bait, see your veterinarian urgently. Phone Vet Cross 07 4151 5044 for emergencies.