{News & Views} Poisoning the world, one rat at a time.

While some parts of the world worship the rat as a bringer of good fortune, in the West, seeing a mouse in the kitchen usually results in a scream and a call to the exterminator. Most people never give this process a second thought, but there is a very good reason why we should all be doing exactly that. You see, the rat poison isn’t just killing the rats. It’s turning them into traveling nuggets of poison which go on to kill whatever eats them: a cycle which has been spiraling upwards through the food chain, and no one knows exactly where it will stop.

This frightening article posted in the Sacramento Bee highlights how for the past decade products intended to kill rodents in homes and warehouses have been wreaking havoc on surrounding ecosystems, despite warnings and attempts to get the products banned.

Allan Muth, awoke on June 28 to a startling sight outside his kitchen window: a half-grown bobcat kitten, lying on its side, breathing heavily near a water tray with an adult nearby.

“It was rather poignant,” Muth said. “The adult would go over and occasionally paw the juvenile as if to get it to get up and move, and it wouldn’t.

“Finally, the adult turned and walked away.”

By early afternoon, the young bobcat was dead. Suspicious, Muth placed it in a freezer and later sent it to UC Davis.

Last week, it was examined by Andy Engilis Jr., curator of the school’s Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology.

“When we do a necropsy, generally the organs are intact and there is little blood,” he said. “When I opened this animal up, it was engorged with blood. The only time I’ve seen that is with rodents exposed to anti-coagulant (poison). It was compelling.”

Recently, the father of a family of red-tailed hawk living in Riverside Park, was killed by eating a rat poisoned by the very same parks department.

photo credit: DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

Just like with the bees, dependence on the “convenience” of chemicals designed to eliminate “pests” is having a widespread and devastating impact on our whole world.

Please reconsider using these harmful products in your home and garden. The rat poisons in question are sold under the brand names D-Con, Havoc, Talon, Tomcat Ultra and Just One Bite, while the bee killer compound is clothianidin, sold by Bayer Crop Science, under the name Poncho

There are natural alternatives for pesticides if your rats are not as adorable as the ones up top. First, keep your spaces clean and foods in glass or hard plastic containers. Seal up your attic and crawlspaces to avoid temptation. Rats also hate the smell of peppermint, so soaking rags in peppermint oil will drive out any in your warm attic. Finally, often just the scent of a domestic cat is enough to make these little critters look for a more hospitable home. If you’re a softie like me, you can make sure that there are nice wooded areas left in or near your yard to give them a more appropriate place to call home.

For the bees, try using a simple solution of soap, cayenne pepper and olive oil on your plants to discourage pests, just avoid spraying the flowers so that your pollenators will still be able to do their jobs.

bees in the garden by lorigami

(photo of cute rats up top by matthieu-aubry on flickr)

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  1. Definitely Shared this one on Facebook. It’s important that people learn their actions have consequences. <3 the Peppermint oil idea! Thanks for an informative post!

  2. This is a great piece Lori. I think that more people need to be aware of the toxins they are using in their homes and the affect these things have on surrounding eco systems. Please consider all alternatives and take responsibility. Simple things like keeping your place clean can negate the need for any intervention.
    And the little ratties up top are so cute, my stepdaughter would fall right in love with them. They make great pets.

  3. Excellent article! I get tired of people who just spray chemicals on everything without even giving it a second thought. People need to know what the consequences are & that there are much safer alternatives. I will share on FB.

  4. I love the peppermint oil idea. I personally think the rats are super cute but still don’t want them roaming around my attic or basement! They’re cute from the comfort of the computer screen :-)

    • I have had several pet rats, including one who came when called, so I am probably less squeamish than most, but I don’t want wild ones in our kitchen either. Luckily, our 7 cats eliminate any pest problems, haha.

  5. We are currently in a battle to keep the rattle population from taking over our chicken house. In the middle of the night dozens of pack rats can be found in the most acrobatic of situations inside our chicken coop. Thank you for the reminder on poisons and for reenforcing our non-toxic tactics.

  6. Thank you for this post ! Hope this will help each other to understand that we are not alone on the planet !