Unwelcome visits from rats or mice can make us reach straight for the rat baits. But the products we choose can mean life or death for our local wildlife.
When buying rodenticide, always check the packaging and choose options that contain less harmful ingredients like Sodium Chloride (Ratsak Naturals), Coumatetralyl (AKA Racumin), or Warfarin (AKA Ratsak Double-strength) – and leave the other options on the shelf.
The options we need to avoid are SGARs: Second Generation Anti-Coagulant Rodenticides. SGARs are so potent and deadly that they are banned or heavily regulated in places like the USA, Canada, and the EU because of the risks.
But in Australia, they are freely available to buy from any supermarket or hardware store. And it’s killing more than just rodents.
SGARs work by causing internal bleeding, and a single dose is fatal. But when rats and mice eat baits poisoned with SGARs, they don’t die right away. There is a time lag between taking bait and feeling the effects. During this period, rodents become walking time bombs that can kill other animals and birds that eat them.
Studies in Australia have found harmful, and often fatal levels of SGARs in dead birds of prey, including Southern Boobooks, Wedge-tailed Eagles, and Powerful Owls, and they have also been indicated in the deaths of native reptiles, marsupials, and pets.
To protect your native birds and wildlife, avoid any product that contains Brodifacoum, Bromadiolone, Difenacoum, Difethialone and Flocoumafen.
You can also reduce the need for rodenticides by making your house and garden less friendly for rats and mice:
- Keep the garden tidy and free of fallen fruit or excess pet food and patch up any holes in the walls or roof that rodents might be using.
- Encourage native predators by planting native trees – and protect any existing trees, especially those containing hollows that native birds of prey use for nesting (these hollows can take more than 150 years to develop). You can also install nest boxes that some owls to breed in.
- Consider other non-poison pest control like snap traps first – rodenticides should only be used as a last resort.
- If you do find you need to use rodenticide, always read the label to ensure you’re choosing safer products with Active Constituents like Sodium Chloride, Coumatetralyl, or Warfarin.
- Always leave SGARs on the shelf.
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