How Does a Rat Poison Work: Is Using Rat Poisons Really Worth It?

How Does a Rat Poison Work and is it safe to use?

Though many of us don’t want to use poisons to deal with a rat infestation, sometimes it becomes essential to control the growth of a colony. So it is very tempting to use poisons as the first line of defense. However, using poisons recklessly can do you more harm than good. Once you know how rat poisons work, I’m sure you’ll be able to see the risks and use poisonous rodenticides more carefully. This is why today we’ll try to explain how rat poison works and why you should try to find safer alternatives.

Let’s have a look at how the most common types of rat poisons work first. Then we’ll check out the potential risks of these toxins and why you should find a better and safer solution. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll have a clear idea about the risk and benefit you can get from different types of rat poison. So let’s get started. Shall we?


How Does Rat Poison Work

Let’s have a deeper look at different types of rat poison and see how they work. Shall we?

Here are some most used rodenticides across the globe:


Long-acting Anticoagulants (LAACs)

This is by far the most popular way to kill pesky rodents and secure your home. They are also known as anticoagulant rodenticides or blood thinners. They also work the same way blood thinners work for humans; by preventing blood clotting. They just contain a much higher and potent dose to ensure the kill. Though this is a bit of a lengthy process, it isn’t harmful to any other animal and has a much higher success rate.

Not only do LAACs prevent the blood from clotting, but they also cause trauma to the blood vessel walls of the poor rat’s body, increasing the risk of internal bleeding. And once the bleeding starts, the rate can’t stop the bleeding as they are depleted of Vitamin K. As a result, the vermin dies from internal hemorrhaging. One other reason this anticoagulant rat poison is so popular is that the signs of poisoning are treatable for both humans or pets. Some common anticoagulant rodenticides are super warfarin, 4-hydroxycoumarin, and indandione.



This kind of rodent poison induces brain swelling (cerebral edema). It is used to control commensal rats and mice in and around sewers, homes, industrial/agricultural buildings, inside transport/cargo vehicles, and many more. This is a serious poison and dealing with it requires undivided attention and care. It is a solid, odorless compound that is effective even against rodents resistant to anticoagulant rat poison.

This powerful poison works by shutting down the rat’s ability to produce any energy at the mitochondrial level. Though this is not a fast-acting poison, death is almost certain (within 24/36 hours) once a rat/mouse ingests it. But you need to be very careful to avoid any accidental poisoning. This highly potent rat poison provides a lethal dose to rodents in a single feeding, meaning once the rat ingests the poison, it’s over for them.


Zinc/Aluminum phosphate

Commonly known as Phosphide rat poison, this type of rat poison is more popular nowadays. As the dead rodent isn’t poisonous, this rodenticide reduces the chance of secondary poisoning. Both Zinc and Aluminum phosphate are acute toxins. This type of poison works by reacting to the rat’s stomach acid and forming a gas called phosphine. This gas kills the rats quicker than Bromethalin. That is why they are especially suited for household use.

If you have a pet or are trying to get rid of rats from your home, we strongly recommend trying out this one. These types of rat poison products reduce the risk of harming your pets or other animals by accident. But they are not completely harmless. If the poisoned rat vomits, the toxic gases can be exposed to any nearby people or animals, causing irritations.


Vitamin D3 (Calciferol)

These types of rodenticides are commonly known as “Calciferol.” The basic principle is to overdose the vermin with phosphorus and calcium. This is a great choice for those who want to avoid second-generation poisoning. When the rat’s body is exposed to a toxic dose of phosphorus and calcium, it increases the level of Vitamin D in the body. Though it may sound like that’s a good thing first, let me assure you that it isn’t.

Higher levels of Vitamin D cause hypercalcemia (Calcium toxicity) in the rat’s body. This leads to damaging the stomach, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, and other vital organs due to a process named calcification. The vermin usually dies within a few days after exposure to the poison, and the dead body doesn’t contain any toxin. This is a nasty but effective way to kill pesky rats without harming anyone else.



Last but not the least, we present the infamous Strychnine. Though it is good at killing rodents, it comes with a wide range of dangerous side effects to humans, pets, and the environment. They are still being used by professionals for below-ground poisoning. This powerful toxin is a colorless and bitter crystalline alkaloid. It is so powerful that rats don’t even need to ingest the poison. Simply inhaling or absorbing it through the skin, eyes, or mouth is enough for getting a lethal dose.

Strychnine works by interrupting the natural workflow from nerve signals to the muscles, causing severe and painful spasms. When the muscles get tired and can’t move anymore, the poor rat can’t breathe and dies from suffocation.


Is Rat Poison Safe?

No, of course not. Rodenticide poisoning is a cruel, inhuman, and dangerous way to deal with pests. Though rats are considered pests once they infest your home, they also are important to the ecosystem around us. If you use some nasty toxin to get rid of these vermin, there is a great chance that your pets, farm animals, or another human being may come across secondary poisoning. So poisoning isn’t safe at all. Using various poisons may cause these side effects if anyone is exposed to them:

  • Internal bleeding/Oral and nasal bleeding
  • Muscle pain/skin irritation
  • Trouble breathing
  • Drowsiness, weakness, and fainting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever/Diarrhoea
  • Headache/ Stomach ache

On top of that, there are many safe and harmless ways to get rid of these pesky rats from your home for good. We suggest you talk with your local pest control specialist to find out the best way to get rid of these annoying vermin without risking the life of your family, pets, and the environment.


Final Thoughts

I hope by now you have a pretty solid idea about how rat poisons work and what threat they possess to the environment surrounding you. Though the idea of using a fast-acting poison is very lucrative. If that possesses more risk than its help, it’s time to rethink your options, right?

No more today. We’ll try to inform you about the safer alternatives to rat poisons in our next articles. So please stay tuned. I hope this article proves to be helpful to those who are in need. Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment section below. I wish you all a safe and rodent-free environment. Thanks for reading this far. Take care and stay safe.

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