Visiting Varmints, Control, and Unintended Consequences
April 1, 2013
Over the last decade, our Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been delving into the safety and control of commercial rodenticides (mouse and rat poison). Now they have begun banning many of those products for ‘do-it-yourselfers’ in an attempt to reduce the risk of accidental exposure to children and pets. But, before we breathe a sigh of relief, let’s review what was and what will be available after the EPA is finished with their good intentions.
Traditionally, mouse and rat control products available at your local store came in the form of pellets in a small container. You could open the container to expose the pellets and the little critters would come to feed. The pellets were easily accessible and were often carried back to the nest. These pellets contain anticoagulants that, when ingested at toxic levels, will cause the animal to bleed internally to death.
The bad news – exposure to pets and children can produce the same results if not treated promptly.
The good news – Treatment to combat the affect of these household rodenticides is decontamination (vomiting, activated charcoal to limit absorption of the toxin) and then a regimen of Vitamin K to combat the anticoagulant. Even in cases where discovery is delayed and internal bleeding has begun, blood transfusions will increase the patients clotting factors. The pellets often have bright food coloring that can alert a parent or pet owner to a possible ingestion, the anticoagulant is relatively slow acting, and the prognosis for a complete recovery is very good.
The items now available over-the-counter for consumers contain different chemicals that, depending on which is used and how much is consumed will, cause seizures or high blood calcium levels that lead to organ failure.
The good news – These new traps are self-contained and no poison is exposed. The rodent walks in, can’t get back out, eats the poison, and dies. They are ‘technically’ child and pet resistant.
Hooray for the EPA, right? Not quite…
The bad news – “Pet resistant” does not mean “Pet proof”. Our canine friends can, and will, chew these products open and ingest the poison. Once eaten, there is little that can be done. There is no test and no antidote! Immediate treatment with standard decontamination, IV fluids and/or steroids may help in low exposure, but if your pet eats a lot, death is almost certain.
Licensed, regulated pest control companies still have access to the anticoagulant type rodenticides so if you have a chronic or severe infestation, you might want consider that option. No matter what you choose, vigilance and following instructions can prevent accidents when combating those visiting varmints.
And remember – there is still the timeless, tried-and-true, method of ‘pest control’…own a cat!
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