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How to Poison Wildlife

Before you run to the store and spend a few hundred dollars on poisons, there are some important things you need to keep in mind. Poison is almost never the best option: Yes, we understand that people are drawn to the “out of sight, out of mind” simplicity of poisoning nuisance animals, but this marketing tool is highly misleading and here’s why:

1. Rodents are difficult to poison. Yes, you may kill a mouse or two with poison, but other species are not so easy. Rats, for example, which are one of the animals people want to poison the most, tend to be wary of new foods in their environment. This means rats will taste test something you put down. If they get sick, they will never eat that item again. Clearly, this survival mechanism has keep the rat around for hundreds of years and isn’t likely to fail them any time soon.

2. Poison can open you up to bigger problems. Let’s say you do manage to poison the rodent population in your home. What now? Where are those animals going to go to die? While there is a pervasive myth out there that rodents will magically leave your home in their last moments to find water, this is, as stated, a myth. The reality is that a sick rat or mouse is going to do what you do when you’re sick: stay at home and be as comfortable as possible. Yes, they may want to seek out warmth or liquids, but they aren’t going to leave the safety of your home to do it. If anything, they are going to climb toward heating ducts and plumbing pipes and then breathe their last breaths deep within your walls. Now, you’ll have scores of dead bodies in your walls, and eventually you will have a horrible odor to reckon with. Most homeowners don’t realize it, but the only want to truly get rid of that odor is to find and remove all of the rotting organic material. So, what’s worse? Live rodents in your home, or dead bodies hidden within the structure?

3. There are few, if any, approved poisons for larger animals. Rodents are just one form of nuisance animal, and one of the only types of critters that have commercially approved poisons. Larger animals, like raccoons, opossums, and coyotes, aren’t so easy to obtain chemicals for, and this leads many homeowners to making Internet-recipe concoctions at home. This process puts you and your family/pets at risk and offers no guarantee it will even work for your situation. Don’t put on your chemist apron just yet.

4. Poison is a horrible way for any animal to die. Of all the reasons not to use poison, this is one of the biggest. There are a number of different chemicals on the market that work as active ingredients in poison, and none of them kill animals in a humane way. Often, an animal that ingests poison will be sick and in pain for days before it finally dies, and with so many other, more effective options out there, this is just an unnecessary cruelty.

What are the types of poisons out there and how do they work?

There are many different chemicals out there in commercial poisons, but the most common are those falling into a class called anticoagulants. These ingredients include chemicals such as bromadiolone, chlorophacinone, difethialone, brodifacoum, and warfarin.

Different anticoagulants accomplish their goals in different ways, but they all ultimately prevent the body from recycling vitamin K, an essential vitamin that helps form the clotting agents in the body. During the day, even with no obvious trauma to the physical form, all animals experience minor hemorrhaging of blood vessels in high-stress areas of the body, like the joints. In a normal system, those small bleeds are quickly controlled through the clotting process. When you introduce bromadiolone, chlorophacinone, difethialone, brodifacoum, or warfarin, however, that process can’t be completed and the body will eventually develop severe internal bleeding.

Anticoagulants are not the only poisons on the market. There are four other common chemicals found in commercial products, and these are:

Bromethalin: Bromethalin was FDA approved in 1984 and is an agent that inhibits proper nerve cell function. Poisons with this active ingredient cause nerve cells in the brain to swell, which in turn puts massive pressure on the brain and eventually results in paralysis and death.

Cholecalciferol: Another active ingredient that made it onto the market in the 1980’s, cholecalciferol is actually a fancy name for vitamin D3. While a healthy body does naturally need this vitamin, extremely high doses, such as those found in poisons, causes an influx of calcium into the blood stream which eventually causes systemic toxicity, shutting down everything from the nervous system and muscles to the kidneys and cardiovascular system.

Strychnine: Strychnine is one of the oldest toxins used in nuisance animal control, but it has been severely regulated since the 1940’s. Strychnine is a plant-derived substance that causes cells in the spinal cord to become hyper-active, triggering muscle spasms that debilitate breathing and cause death. This agent is now restricted to use underground, and cannot be found in dosages higher than 0.5 percent.

Zinc Phosphide: Zinc Phosphide is another decade’s old poison that, like strychnine, is highly toxic. Products with this active ingredient work by creating phosphine gas, which prevents cells from properly generating energy. Those cells eventually die, and this exposure leads to brain, heart, lung, and kidney damage.

As you can see, none of the issues associated with poisons sound very pain-free. Before you opt to use this as your nuisance animal control method, consider researching your other options. Rats and mice, for example, can still be lethally dealt with, but in a humane manner that eliminates the risk of a dozen dead bodies in your walls.
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