What ARE rodenticides exactly and how can they harm pets, people, and wildlife?
The rodent family is not limited to just rats and mice, but also includes beavers, squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, and nutria, among others. Left to their own devices, these mammals can multiply quickly, causing lots of headaches for homeowners and others.
While it is true that rodents play a critical part in the ecosystem, they can also transmit diseases, harm crops, and destroy food supplies. Uncontrolled rodent infestations cost homeowners, ranchers, farmers, and business owners millions of dollars each year in lost inventory and damage to machinery, structures, and other property.
It is for these reasons that a growing number of people are choosing to use rodenticides, often as a last resort, to help control infestations quickly and effectively.
Rodenticides, as the name suggests, are pesticides targeted to kill these pests.
Prior to the 1940’s, rodenticides typically contained heavy metals such as arsenic, or poisons such as strychnine. However, the extremely dangerous toxicity of these formulations caused pest control experts to seek other methods of rodent abatement, including the use of anti-coagulant rodenticides.
Anti-coagulants work by interrupting the normal blood clotting (coagulation) process, causing animals dosed to suffer uncontrolled bleeding and eventually die. Other non- anti-coagulants rodenticides were also formulated during this period, including bromethalin, cholecalciferol, and zinc phosphide.
Today’s second generation anti-coagulant rodenticides are far more potent and toxic than that first generation, causing unintended consequences such as accidental poisoning of pets or children, and secondary poisoning of birds and mammals that happen to ingest affected rodents.
You might recognize the name “warfarin” from one of those television commercials advertising blood thinners. What you might not know, however, is that warfarin began its’ life as a rodenticide and is still used for this purpose. In the early 1950’s, warfarin was discovered to be effective in the prevention of thrombosis and thromboembolism and is routinely prescribed for people suffering from those conditions. It is recognized as being the first anticoagulant rodenticide.
First generation rodenticides such as warfarin, chlorophacinone, and diphacinone pose fewer risks to pets and wildlife. Known as “multiple-dose” anticoagulants, they generally require that an animal eat multiple doses of the bait over a period of several days.
It is the second generation “single-dose” anticoagulants; such asbrodifacoum, bromadiolone, and difethialone that are far more toxic and threatening to pets and wildlife. One day’s feeding of these rodenticides can deliver a toxic dose of poison impacting animals that feed on dead and dying rodents. Second generation anti-coagulant damage has been discovered in a variety of animals, including hawks, owls, eagles, raccoons and foxes.
Rodenticides have the same effects when eaten by any mammal and they also affect birds of prey, pets, and people. Their formulations usually include flavorings intended to attract rodent pests, and may include fish oil or peanut butter. Baits used in agriculture may also contain ground meat, grains, vegetables, or fruits and thus could be attractive to children and pets.
The possibility of accidental poisoning has resulted in manufacturers developing tamper-resistant bait stations that make it more difficult for accidents to happen. While accidental poisoning from direct consumption of anti-coagulants is becoming rarer due to such innovations, there is a growing problem regarding second generation rodenticides: poisoning via secondary exposure.
While it is possible for pets and wildlife to directly consume rodenticides, a much more common occurrence is when they are poisoned via a secondary exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides.
Secondary exposure occurs when pets, domestic animals, or wildlife consume dead or dying rodents that have eaten anticoagulant rodent bait.
Throughout the United States the use of poison baits to control rodents has injured and killed hundreds or thousands of wild animals and pets. Wildlife that can be affected by secondary poisoning includes owls, hawks, eagles and mammals such as raccoons, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions and coyotes. Cats and dogs have also suffered, and many have died, due to having ingested rodents poisoned with anti-coagulants.
Studies in a number of states, including California, have also confirmed instances of tertiary poisoning. One such documented case occurred when two mountain lions died of anticoagulant ingestion after eating coyotes that had eaten poisoned rodents
With all the potential risks to the environment, is there an alternative to conventional anti-coagulant rodenticides?
We at Ecoclear Products believe there is. That’s why we put our time, energy, and resources into products such as MouseX, RatX, and Stop Bugging Me! All of these formulations are uniquely designed to safely eliminate pests without harming wildlife, people, or pets.
Our scientifically formulated pest control products are easy to use and naturally derived to kill unwanted pests from homes, businesses, schools, ranches, and farms without endangering livestock, pets, or children.
If you are someone who needs to remove pests, but are concerned about the potential side effects of modern rodenticides, you will appreciate Ecoclear’s naturally-derived products.
We share your concern for the environment and want to partner with you to help protect the Earth. If you have questions about our products or about rodent control in general, please contact us.
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