Why You Need to Stop Using Rodenticides
You don’t want mice in your house or garage — so why should you stop using rodenticides? There are plenty of mice — too many. So what is the problem? There is a huge problem with using rodenticides. The mice driving you crazy, eating the wires in your car, nesting in your garage or attic are also food for many larger animals.
Did you know that rodenticide targets not only mice and rats but also squirrels, beavers, voles, porcupines, nutria, and chipmunks? It doesn’t kill them all instantly, either. It is about 50% effective with the first consumption. Some rodents must ingest it multiple times to be effective. The rodents can be poisoned and caught by a larger animal before the poison kills them, and the larger animal will die or become very sick from eating the mouse. Your house cat or barn cat can catch and kill the mouse and then die from eating it. Many other animals eat rodents — every carnivorous and omnivorous animal that is larger, in fact.
Because rodents are mammals, the other mammals that prey upon them are affected by the rodenticide in much the same way. And it is not just mammals that are poisoned by rodenticides. Birds are also poisoned. It has been shown that birds may become poisoned in smaller doses than previously thought. Reptiles don’t die from the poison, but they store the poison, and their bodies become toxic time bombs waiting for the next animal up the food chain to eat them, usually a bird or mammal. Here is a sample of the animals affected:
Prey that often has rodenticide presentPredatorOutcome if rodenticide is presentmice, squirrels, chipmunkssnakes and reptilesthey store the poisonsnakes, other reptilesbirds of prey, coyotesdeathmice, squirrels, chipmunkscrowsdeath or illnessmice, squirrels, chipmunksheronsdeathmiceblue jays (hard to picture — but true)deathmice, squirrels, chipmunksraccoonsdeathmice, blue jays, squirrels, chipmunksdomesticate and feral cats deathmice, blue jays, skunksbobcatsdeathmice, blue jaysfoxesdeathmice, catshawkdeathmice, catseagledeathdead micevulturedeath or illnessmice, cats, dogsdeathmice, catsskunkdeathmiceowlsdeath or illnessmice, carrion, cats, skunk, foxes, raccoonscoyotes, wild dogsdeath or illnessmice, cats, coyotes, skunks, raccoonsmountain lionsdeath or illnessRodenticides are killing everything from rodents to endangered apex predators.
Rodenticide usage is careless and short-sighted. By wiping out the mice and rats in the area, everything that eats them (or the next animal that eats the predator that ate the mouse in the food chain) is compromised. Most of the smaller animals will die from eating the poisoned rodents quickly. The larger animals may not die immediately — although many do. They may become ill and diseased instead of dying right away if they are lucky enough to survive ingesting rat poison. Necropsy reports show that most dead mountain lions and cougars found (that have not been killed by automobiles) have rat poison present in their system.
Mouse and rat poison are anti-coagulants. What this means is that the poison interferes with the coagulation of blood in the liver. This causes the animals to sicken and die. Then the animals that eat them, also sicken and die. This is resulting in widespread death of native wild animals worldwide.
So, if rodenticides are clearly a disastrous choice, what humane options do we have?
While learning to coexist with all animals without killing off their species would be the best solution, humans rarely choose this as a viable option. So, short of allowing these animals to live in peace and let the predators keep the natural balance, there are mouse traps that do not kill everything in line up to lions. There are also newer less toxic forms of poison.
My vote is to live in balance with all animals. Seal your homes. replace old weatherstripping. Fill entry points with steel wool, because rats and mice cannot chew through it. Mice can enter through tiny holes so every hole must be plugged. You can add motion lights to the undercarriage of your vehicles if you park in remote areas. This deters mice from crawling into your engine. Keep your trash covered. Keep your woodpile up off the ground. If you have a feral cat community, capture the feral cats to have them neutered and spayed, then release them back into the neighborhood, provide shelter and food for them. They will keep the mouse population under control naturally.