Rodenticides are pesticides that kill rodents. Examples of rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, woodchucks, chipmunks, porcupines, nutria, and beavers. Though they have important roles in nature, rodents may require control. They can damage crops, transmit disease, damage buildings, or cause ecological harm.
Exposure and Risk
All mammals, including rodents, humans, dogs and cats, are affected by rodenticides in similar ways. Many rodenticides work by disrupting normal blood clotting; death results from excessive bleeding. These are the anti-coagulant rodenticides and are categorized as first-generation anticoagulants and second-generation anticoagulants. The second-generation anticoagulants are very toxic and their direct sale to consumers has been banned by EPA. However, they may still be used in homes by pest control professionals. Non-anticoagulant rodenticides poison rodents by a different mechanism. Rodenticides may be poisonous to humans when ingested, and many may be toxic when breathed in or touched with bare skin.
Rodenticide baits, designed to attract animals, may also be attractive to children and pets, so they should always be used or stored out of their reach. Tamper-resistant bait stations should be used for further precaution. The most effective way to reduce risk for rodenticide health effects is to use integrated pest management and avoid using pesticides. Other options for controlling rodents include eliminating rodents' sources of food and access to the home.
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