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Cheyenne, the Sequoia Park Zoo's bald eagle. Native predators like Cheyenne need to be protected from rat poison.

Do-It-Yourself: Boosting Animal Welfare at Home

Saving Wildlife with Alternatives to Rat Poison

One topic that our chapter educates the public about is the impact of rat poison (or rodenticide) on wildlife. Our AAZK chapter is lucky enough to live in the wild redwood forests of northern California where we interact with wildlife on a daily basis, wildlife like Cheyenne, the Sequoia Park Zoo’s new bald eagle.

One very important and easy thing we can do to save the wild predators like Cheyenne and Winky (our Northern Spotted Owl) is to STOP using chemical-based rat poison.

Our AAZK chapter designed this poster about the impact of rat poison for the Sequoia Park Zoo's

Party for the Planet event in April 2015.

There are many kinds of rat poison, but the most researched type is the “second generation anticoagulant rodenticide.” You’ve probably seen these at the super market, marketed as mouse and rat poisons by companies like Liphatech Inc., Spectrum Brand, and Reckitt Benckiser (d-CON). The active killing ingredients are Bromadiolone, Brodifacoum, Diphacinone, and Difethialone.

Why is rat poison bad? No one wants rats in their house!

Rat poison DOES kill rats, but it also kills or injures other animals (or people!) that eat the poison OR eat a rat that has eaten the poison.

Rat poison is a major conservation concern! Native wildlife eat the poisoned rats after the rats leave our homes. The rat poison inside of the rats ends up killing the wildlife. Wildlife like Winky actually HELP us keep rat populations down by killing the rats, so we need to protect them. For instance, just one owl can eat 1,000 rats per year!

Rat poison also hurts our children. Between 12,000-15,000 young children and infants are poisoned by rat poison each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and medical treatment is necessary.

Even our pets can be killed by rat poison! Thousands of pet dogs and cats are reportedly poisoned each year in the Unites States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Animal Poison Control Center. Toxic doses of bromethalin are estimated to be 2.5 mg/kg for dogs. Immediate medical treatment is necessary.

What is the alternative? What can we do instead to remove rodents from our homes?

  • Eliminate food sources. Store food in strong containers. Don’t leave crumbs or trash out.

  • Remove potential rat homes like yard debris. Keep garbage cans closed.

Photo credit: Mike and Dad's Hauling

  • Exclude rodents from your house. Seal openings ½ inch or larger around the outside of your house with metal or concrete.
  • Use catch-and-release traps or, if absolutely necessary, snap traps that kill instantly.


  • Support natural rodent predators in your neighborhood! Raptor families can eat 3000 rodents in one breeding season. Provide perching spots for raptors in your yard. Place nest boxes on your property to encourage owl families to move in.

Photo credit: Raptors are the Solution,

Photo credit: Harm's Lavender and Vineyard Farm, , handmade perch

Photo credit: Tawny owl next box,

Are these tips not enough? Are your neighborhood rats too clever?

Check out this excellent website:

Raptors are the Solution at


There are specialists in Integrated Pest Management that can consult at your residence and provide expert advice on eliminating these pests from your property. Integrated Pest Management is a process used to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. 

We have an excellent management resource in Humboldt County called the Integral Ecology Research Center. They are located in Blue Lake, CA, and can be contacted at (707) 668-4030.

Spread the word!

You can download an educational brochure on this topic from Raptors are the Solution by clicking here.