Rodent Control and Rodenticides
This section aims to give you an overview of rodenticides and rodent pest control management options.
RODENTICIDES - Kill Rats
RODENT CONTROL OPTIONS
- Rodent Baits, Traps, Cages and Deterrents
- Break-back Traps
- Spring Traps
- Live Capture Traps
- Glue Board traps
- Electronic Kill Traps
Rodenticides - Kill Rats
These are poisons that have been developed specifically to kill rats and mice. They consist of ‘first generation’ poisons such as Warfarin and Coumatetralyl and ‘second generation’ poisons such as Brodifacoum, Bromadiolone and Difenacoum.
Most of our rodenticides contain either Bromadiolone or Difenacoum, which are anti-coagulants.
These poisons affect the rodents blood clotting response, so after a few days the rodents will die as a result of internal haemorrhaging. The poison effectively thins the blood to the extent that blood seeps internally from tiny blood vessels and organs quickly resulting in heart failure which ultimately kills the rat.
You may know someone who takes minute amounts of prescription warfarin (a first generation rodenticide) in order to thin their blood to help prevent strokes. Stokes are caused by thick blood clotting and stopping the flow of blood to vital areas like the brain. Often people under this medication can bruise very easily and this is because the tiny blood veins next to their skin break easily when damaged and blood seeps from the veins causing the bruising. These people are completely unaware of this process in their bodies in exactly the same way as the rodent is completely unaware of the process in action.
The rodents feel fine, suffering no pain and therefore they continue to feed as normal, consuming a lethal dose before succumbing to the effects of the poison. This is important, as rats in particular will quickly stop eating anything that they associate with danger. In the latter stages of poisoning, the rodents feel lethargic and tend to stay in their nests, where most of them die. The occasional one may die above ground, and you should always search for bodies whilst you are conducting a poisoning campaign.
Dead rats and mice can be disposed of in your domestic rubbish - unless you are a professional pest controller when they become a controlled waste.
Difenacoum is a multi-feed, synthetic, second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticide.
The active ingredient is formulated on a food base, typically cereal, to produce a ready to use bait containing 0.005% w/w difenacoum.
When compared to other anticoagulant rodenticides, difenacoum has a good level of activity against the brown rat, and excellent levels of activity against mice.
Due to the potency of difenacoum to rodents as compared to other non-target species, this active ingredient is particularly useful where domestic or farm animals are present in the area to be treated.
However, difenacoum is a potent poison to all mammal species and it is essential that all baits should be well protected from non-target animals. The best way to achieve this is by placing the baits in an approved bait box.
As with all anticoagulants, accidental poisoning with difenacoum can be antidoted with vitamin K1
Difenacoum is our preferred rodenticide because of its effectiveness against rodents and its slightly less aggressive characteristics against non-target species than most other rodenticides in common use.
Bromadiolone is a multi-feed, synthetic, second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticide.
The active ingredient is formulated on a food base, typically cereal, to produce a ready to use bait containing 0.005% w/w bromadiolone.
When compared to other anticoagulant rodenticides, bromadiolone has a good level of activity against the brown rat, and moderate levels of activity against mice.
Bromadiolone is marginally more toxic to non-target ‘farmyard’ species than difenacoum.
Bromadiolone is a potent poison to all mammal species and it is essential that all baits should be well protected from non-target animals. The best way to achieve this is by placing the baits in an approved bait box.
As with all anticoagulants, accidental poisoning with bromadiolone can be antidoted with vitamin K1
Brodifacoum is a single feed, synthetic, second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticide.
The active ingredient is formulated on a food base, typically cereal to produce a ready to use bait containing 0.005% w/w brodifacoum.
When compared to other anticoagulant rodenticides, brodifacoum has a excellent level of activity against the brown rat, and against mice.
Brodifacoum is extremely toxic to all mammals and is legally only certified for indoor use. This is a very aggressive single feed poison.
Brodifacoum is a potent poison to all mammal species and it is essential that all baits are only used indoors and they must be well protected from non-target animals. The best way to achieve this is by placing the baits in an approved bait box.
As with all anticoagulants, accidental poisoning with brodifacoum can be antidoted with vitamin K1.
Flocoumafen is a single feed, synthetic, second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticide very similar in make-up to Bromadiolone.
The active ingredient is formulated on a food base, typically cereal to produce a ready to use bait containing 0.005% w/w flocoumafen.
When compared to other anticoagulant rodenticides, flocoumafen has a excellent level of activity against the brown rat, and against mice.
Flocoumafen is extremely toxic to all mammals and is legally only certified for indoor use. This is a very aggressive single feed poison.
Flocoumafen is a potent poison to all mammal species and it is essential that all baits are only used indoors and they must be well protected from non-target animals. The best way to achieve this is by placing the baits in an approved bait box.
As with all anticoagulants, accidental poisoning with flocoumafen can be antidoted with vitamin K1.
We do not stock flocoumafen products.
There is also a non-toxic natural rodenticide, approved by the Barn Owl Trust. This consists only of natural cellulose derived from maize. It works by interfering with the rodent’s water absorption, thus causing dehydration. Due to the unique way in which rodent’s stomachs process food, it is completely safe for other mammals and birds.
There may be one or two issues relating to this product:
- It is essential to ensure that this bait is the only food rodents have access to in order to achieve a good level of control. This is difficult if not impossible.
- The bait is said by some professionals to lack palatability to some rodents resulting in a poor uptake of bait.
- I have heard that it may cause some discomfort or even pain to rodents that have taken a lethal dose.
- We do stock this product, but are monitoring results. Your feed-back would be greatly appreciated.
We recommend the use of rodenticide baits for the control of rats because it is the only method by which most amateurs can be reasonably certain of eliminating a colony quickly and completely. With rats around you should put aside any negative feelings you might have about using poisons for the sake of achieving swift and complete control. Read about the limitations of other methods of control listed below. (The only exception to this advice is where rats are living inside your home, when a poisoned rat dying under the floor or in the wall can produce a vile smell) In this case break back traps should be used as a first method of control.
Bait stations are a highly effective way of swiftly dealing with mice in buildings or in the home. Bait should always be placed within approved bait stations and difenacoum is the bait of choice. However, if you prefer not to use rodenticides, mice – unlike rats - are very easy to trap and trapping is generally our preferred method of control.
Break back rat traps are similar in appearance to normal break back mouse traps, but much more powerful. They are cheap to buy and easy to set.
Rats are notoriously difficult to trap. It is most unlikely that even a professional will manage to trap all the rats in a colony because, apart from being very cautious of new objects in their territory, they also learn very quickly from other rats experiences. So, if they see a rat being caught in a trap, the older rats in particular tend to avoid similar situations and quickly become ‘trap shy’.
Leave the traps unset but baited for a couple of days before you activate the traps. You should quickly catch two or three, but after that things will get difficult.
Break back traps for mice are cheap to buy, easy to set and very effective.
Mice are inquisitive creatures and will quickly check out any new objects in their territory. They don’t seem to learn from the experiences of their chums so they are amongst the easiest of all creatures to trap. The key is to use lots of traps, two in a single kitchen cupboard, four under the sink, ten in the loft, those sort of numbers. Bait the traps with a little peanut butter and you are off. Check them twice a day and don’t be surprised if you catch a lot of mice, there are probably many more than you at first think.
Spring traps like the Mark 4 Fenn trap can be quite effective when set correctly. They are much more powerful than the break back traps and must be handled with great care. Always remember to flip on the safety catch until you have the trap in the right position and then flip off the catch with a long stick or similar. By law these traps may only be used when covered by a tunnel to prevent access by cats and other animals. They are usually set with the treadle plate flush to the ground and then camouflaged with a small amount of soil. They should be secured to the ground by their chain.
Mice Traps – not applicable.
Before you decide to use live traps for rats, check out our video footage of rats and cage traps. Rats are extremely cautious of traps of any kind; they just seem to know when danger is around. You may catch a few rats with cages, provided you follow this guide but I can pretty much guarantee that you will not catch the whole colony.
Guide to catching rats in cage traps:
Use several cage traps unless you are just dealing with one or two invaders.
Place the traps in position, open, unset, but baited and leave for several days until the rats are feeding confidently from inside the cages.
Set all the traps one evening.
Next day you should have a rat or two.
Continue to bait and set the traps, but if no success start again leaving the traps open but baited.
Be patient, this exercise can take several weeks, by which time you could have safely and humanely eliminated the whole colony by using poison baits.
Having caught your rat:
If you chose to use cage traps, I assume that is because you don’t want to kill the rat but would rather release it into the fields.
When you release the rat, make sure that it is several miles away because the moment it is out of the cage its only intention is to get back home – and it will soon work out in which direction home is.
On its way back home it will almost certainly die from stress, starvation or it will become a meal for some predator just looking for a little lost creature. It will not be allowed to join any other rat colonies; rather it will be viciously driven from each rat territory it crosses on its way home.
Catch and release is the least humane and most ineffectual option for controlling a small colony of rats, and is utterly useless with a large colony.
Mice, on the other hand are most obliging and will readily go into any sort of live capture trap. Bait it with a bit of peanut butter, check twice a day and just keep trapping and removing.
The same applies to catch and release mice at to rats above. It is not humane, but if it makes you feel better, well at least it will be providing some predator out there with an easy meal, so you can feel good about that.
Make sure you release a mile or so from home or you will just keep on catching the same mice as they wearily arrive home.
Check your traps twice a day and don’t forget them and leave the occupants to die of starvation.
Rat and Mice Traps:
Everyone seems to be selling these sticky glue traps but there is rarely any justification for using this inhumane method of control. Have a look at our video vault to see a rat being caught in a glue trap.
In this particular instance, a pair of rats had taken up residence in the loft of a bungalow. I caught the male, and then another four subsequent males who had taken up with the female as each new male met its fate in the break back traps. The female was trap shy and I could not catch her so I put in several glue boards and waited. Within an hour she was caught and within four minutes dispatched. All holes were then sealed and there were no more rat problems in the loft.
We do not sell glue boards because they do cause the animal considerable stress and suffering. If you have a problem so difficult to resolve, as in the story above, get in the professionals. Don't let them set glue boards and then come back next day to check them. That's just as bad.
Electronic traps do work, and as can be seen in our video vault, they do kill rats. However, they are expensive and they will only ever take out the occasional bold rat. They won't kill any more than cage or break-back traps and they require expensive batteries to run them.
This is the way to catch rats in electronic kill traps:
- Don’t expect these units to deal with an entire colony because they won’t do so any more than any other live or kill trap will succeed.
- For an occasional intruder they work OK.
- Set the trap pretty much anywhere that the rat frequents. Bait it with peanut butter stuck to the back wall of the trap. Don’t switch the trap on until the rat has started to take the peanut butter. Next evening switch the trap on.
- The next day you should have your rat, and you can be sure it will not have suffered for long, a couple of minutes at the most.
- I would still rather use a break back trap (cheaper and quicker kill).
These don’t work, or at least they don’t work for long. Have a look at our video to see rats feeding happily whilst the deterrent is blinking on and off in the background, just a metre away. The rats couldn’t care less.
I don’t know for sure (because I haven’t videoed it – yet), but I think this will be the case with mice and insects as well. They, and your pets soon get used to the background noise and ignore it.
Anecdotal evidence where folk have put units in their houses and never had another problem may well be because the mice simply didn’t decide to make their home in that house again. I do not think they would be put off by deterrents if there were food, water and shelter there for them.
There is no way rats would be put off by electronic deterrents, but mice might be.
If you still want to try electronic deterrents on a ‘just in case it works’ basis, then I will have to refer you to other sites as we only sell products that we know work.