Responsible Rat Poison

Don't Use Poison.

We do not advise using poison to get rid of rats, especially in a residential building that also is home to other animals, including pets, children or the elderly, or those who are suffering with an existing medical condition.

You have no guaranteed outcome when using rodenticides, and you definitely have no control over where the rat or rat carcasses end up. In fact, what you might end up doing when you use poison to get rid of rats is create a bunch of mini walking time bombs. Why? Because growing immunity to rodenticides among rats has resulted in rat predators consuming carcasses that contain excessively high levels of rodenticides. Even seemingly fit and well — alive — rats can have many times the amount of rat poison in the body that would usually kill them off. Natural predators of rats include birds of prey, coyotes, foxes, wolves, raccoons, opossums, snakes, etc. These animals are all in grave danger. We have seen countless cases of wildlife being killed off — a direct cause of secondary rat poisoning.

rat among wires

21 Tips for Using Poison

If you want to use rat poison in your home, below are 21 important tips that you should know, to ensure that you are using it effectively, safely, and without killing anything off by accident:


If rats aren’t going for your snap traps or poison boxes, you may need to go through a lengthy pre-process. This will include putting the bait boxes down without poison to begin with, and without food too. The idea is to allow the rats to acclimatize to the new object in their surroundings. After a while, add some food to the mix. This will encourage the rats to clamber in and out of the poison box, taking the food freely, without anything untoward happening. Rats tend to take a bit of food, test the waters, and then go back for more if it seems safe enough and tasty enough. That’s why poison doesn’t work for rats in a lot of cases — they won’t like what they taste or feel some effects (rare) and won’t go back for more. If you incorporate other foods in — without poison — the rats will become more comfortable with taking food when it does contain poison … Hopefully.

Check Poison Labels

Look at the ingredients of your rat poison and understand how it works. Certain ingredients and types of poison take longer to work than others. Commercially sold rodenticides generally contain anticoagulants, which take a week or more to have any effect in most cases.

Note Where You Placed the Poison

This is definitely important if you are using more than one poison box around your home. It seems like such a silly step, but you’d be surprised by how many homeowners once put down a few bait boxes and then totally forgot about them.

Check Rat Poop for Signs

Look at the dye color. If you have orange pellets of rat poison or bait, it will likely tinge the animals’ feces that color. You will start to notice rat poop that is a slightly hint of orange (or whatever color the poison is) and that will give you a good sign — they ARE eating it.

Invest in Flea Treatment

Consider buying some kind of flea treatment for your home if you have pets. In fact, do this even if you don’t have pets. Rats commonly come with fleas, ticks, mites and other parasites, and there are some insecticides that you can spread on carpets and soft furnishings that will work well to prevent a full-blown infestation without the need for fumigators or exterminators.

Set Reminders to Check Baits

The poison boxes will need to be checked very regularly — at least once per day, preferably in the morning. By doing this, you can get a good idea of how much is being eaten. You can slow down your inspections if nothing appears to be happening, but rats are nocturnal, so the majority of eating activity will have happened overnight and should be evident when you wake up in the morning.

Don't Use Large Amounts

The more poison you use, the higher the chances that you will cause death or harm to your pets, household members, and wildlife.

Remove Dead Rats ASAP

Dead rats attract rat predators and scavengers, alongside flies, maggots, other creepy-crawlies that you will then need to exterminate from your home too.

Beware of Myths

Rat poison doesn’t make a rat thirsty. It will not go outside to look for water and then drown out there. It isn’t a quick or cruelty-free method of extermination in almost every single case.

Exterminate Half-Dead Rats

Come up with a plan to exterminate half-dead rats … because there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find at least one when you use a long and drawn-out method such as poison.

Disinfect Regularly

Perform a thorough cleanup of the area every time you remove a rat from poison boxes or traps. This helps to prevent the spread of disease, and rats are known to both carry and transmit a huge number of them, including rabies.

Keep Pets and Children Away

Even when you think they can’t reach them, they will. That’s the way of the world. Your best option is to have them entirely out of sight and out of reach. Preferably out of smell if you have pets too.

Vary Poison Placement

Don’t always think to place bait or poison boxes on the ground. Although rats do run along walls, etc., they’re also keen climbers and jump pretty well and high, too. If you think you have rats in your home, don’t be afraid to add poison boxes [safely] to high-up beams or wherever you have seen them running. You may need to ensure that they are safely affixed, of course, but moving them around a little might make all the difference.

Pay Attention to the Poison's Smell

If you have a poison that attracts rats to the food by way of smell, you may attract rats that don’t already live in your home. You DO want the rats to be attracted to the food, but only the ones that are already there. If you put poison boxes in the right place — where the rats are travelling around the most — they will find the bait quite easily without too much of an attractant. (Rats do eat EVERYTHING after all.)

Stop if Ineffective

If rat poison doesn’t seem to be working after three or four weeks of using it, find another approach. You might be okay with taking your time, but that colony of rats could be chewing through your electrical cables, destroying your attic insulation, spreading disease, stealing your food, and causing hundreds of dollars worth of damage … sometimes, even thousands of dollars. Give it a shot but accept when/if it doesn’t work. (We’re betting on “when” rather than “if”.)

Know Your Enemy: Rats or Mice?

Rats eat much quicker than mice do, and they eat a lot more food too. If you have mice, the bait/poison boxes will be munched through slower than if you have rats. That’s not the only way to tell the difference though, and the differences do matter. You will need to tailor your approach slightly depending on whether you have one or the other.

Write Date of Placement

Set reminders/write on calendars the dates you put the bait boxes down. Bad/stale bait won’t appeal to rats when there is so much else on offer in your kitchen. Poison shouldn’t be left for longer than three or four weeks.

Be Safe

Don’t forget about the “weird” spots, such as vents, ducts, etc. You will need to be careful when placing anything potentially toxic in an air duct that will blow air around your home, obviously, but you must disperse the poison as wide as you can go, as safely as you can do it. If you can’t do it safely, don’t do it at all.

Hire Professionals

In almost all cases, hiring in an expert rat exterminator will be cheaper, faster, and so much less stressful than trying to attempt the job yourself. By the time you have paid out for poison (which can be very expensive in large amounts), you’ll probably find that an expert would have ended up quoting you a much cheaper price.

Have a Backup Plan

Rat poison rarely works but many homeowners will need to experience that for themselves before they’ll believe it and take alternative action. A backup plan could include using snap traps, which kill the rodents without a lot of the hassle attached. Snap traps are also pretty much guaranteed to work when the rat sets the trigger off, meaning that you won’t have a potential maybe/maybe not situation on your hands.

Monitor Everything

Don’t set-and-forget. Putting down the poison is just a very small part of a much bigger job. There’s the monitoring, replacing, replenishing, moving around, chasing baits, cleaning out … That’s before you get to the actual rats themselves. You MUST dispose of everything in a safe and timely manner. You cannot just set poison boxes and forget all about them. That WILL NOT work as a method of rat extermination.

So . . .

Think about it; $20-30 for poison, replenishing every few weeks, doesn’t work, repeat process for 6 months or so … ? The figures soon start rising, don’t they? That’s before you think about the kind of damage that the rat colony will have caused in the time you have let them stay in your home, and the cost of repairing that damage.

What to Do When Rats Don’t Eat Poison

Isn’t it frustrating when you finally make your mind up about a method of rat extermination and control, only for it then not to work when you put your plan into action? This is the reality faced by homeowners up and down the country on a daily basis, with rats getting smarter, shrewder, fearless, and seemingly more acrobatic as the years roll by.

When you’re using a chemical-based rat control approach, you want it to work as quickly as possible. The longer you have poison lying around the building, the higher the chance that something will go wrong — a kid will become curious about the item and get closer to learn more, or a pet gets close enough to take a sniff … and maybe a lick.

What happens when you use poison and it doesn’t seem to work? What should you do then?

Option 1

Find another method of rat removal and control. We do not use poisons when removing rats from commercial or residential buildings. We don’t recommend using poison to get rid of rodents, either. You could try your hand at snap traps — these will kill rodents more effectively than poison and are slightly more foolproof. (It must still be remembered that there is no 100% guaranteed way to prevent any wild animal from getting into your home. Only sealing your home so that nothing can penetrate can bring you close to rat-proof.)

Option 2

Move the poison boxes around. If you have put bait/poison down along a wall that rats wouldn’t normally run along, they won’t go anywhere near it. You must remember that your home is filled with potential food sources, so missing out on just that one won’t be the biggest deal in the world.

Option 3

Change the bait/poison and/or placement of poison and then try again. Bait isn’t usually that important for rats; they’ll eat anything. You shouldn’t leave poison out for longer than around three or four weeks, though. It will start to lose effectiveness and when you do finally find a place that encourages the rats to eat from it, it won’t have the opportunity to work as well.

How will I know if rat poison is working?

There will be dead rats hanging around to start with, or a bad smell that could be caused by decomposing rat carcasses. This doesn’t always mean that those rats have died as a direct result of your poison, however.

Poison is usually dyed with a certain color, such as orange or green. This will change the color of rat feces — it will have a slightly orange or green tinge to it if it eats enough of the poison. If you can see that the rat feces has changed color slightly (but don’t get too close) but they still aren’t dying, there is a chance that you are experiencing rats with a high immunity to rodenticide. It’s a growing problem and yet another reason why relying on poison is simply not a good idea.

You will also more than likely notice that the poison amount has gone down in the bait box. This isn’t always a sign that rats have eaten it, however; other animals, including pets, may have eaten it.