Rodenticides (Rat and Mouse Poisons)

Traps and baits

Mouse traps, spring traps or glue traps are generally safe. They do not contain any chemicals and pets and children who are exposed to them do not usually require treatment. Mouse baits, however, are laced with chemicals that are poisonous to humans and to animals.

The bait rodenticides are available in the form of pellet-filled trays or solid "cakes." The pellets and cakes are made of food material that is attractive to rodents (e.g., peanut butter, cereal grain). Baits are often placed in areas where they can be easily accessible to children and pets, such as underneath radiators or ovens or near refrigerators or trash.

Easy accessibility, food-like taste and smell, and bright colors make these rodenticides a frequent source of accidental ingestions.


The most common bait available on the market contains a chemical that is an anticoagulant. It works by preventing blood from properly clotting, thereby causing internal bleeding in mice and rats.

In children and pets, the decrease in clotting ability can lead to bruising of skin and bleeding from the nose, gums, minor cuts, scrapes and internal organs. Examples of anticoagulant rodenticides include d-Con: Mouse Prufe II® and Talon ®.

Anticoagulants are especially dangerous because the effects may be delayed. The normal appearance of your child or pet may give you a false sense of security while the poison acts in the body. It is important to notify a healthcare professional immediately after exposure, whether or not you see symptoms.

A follow-up blood test may be done to confirm whether the child or pet is still at risk for toxicity. Since the anticoagulant effects are delayed, this test is done a few days after exposure. In the meantime, watch for skin bruising.

Other baits

Other mouse bait products on the market are not as popular as anticoagulants but they are just as dangerous. They include:

  • Vacor

  • Yellow phosphorus

  • Strychnine

  • Arsenic

Tips to minimize exposure risk

  • Purchase a rodenticide that clearly identifies the active ingredient(s).

  • If you hire a professional exterminator, write down the name and active ingredient of the product used.

  • Do not scatter pellets on the floor; keep them in the original container, in a place that children and pets cannot reach.

  • If you move into a new residence, check carefully for a rodenticide that may have been left by a previous owner.

  • If you suspect that your child has ingested a rodenticide, immediately contact the Poison Control Center or your child's physician. Do not wait for symptoms to appear.

  • If you suspect that your pet has eaten a rodenticide, immediately contact your veterinarian.

Next Steps
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Poisoning Resources for Professionals

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