Rodenticides are poisons that are used to kill rodents. In the state of California, rodenticides must be placed in tamper-proof bait stations. Rodenticides may be classified as anticoagulants (those that cause internal bleeding) or non-anticoagulants. 

Let’s go over the basic types of rodenticides. These toxic substances are some of the most extreme measures used against unwanted critters.

Categories of Rodenticides

Toxic rodenticide products, including anticoagulants and non-anticoagulant, are used in both consumer-and professional-grade bait stations. These substances are designed to kill rats, mice, gophers, squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents. 

In the state of California, there are restrictions on the sale and use of rodenticides.

First-Generation Anticoagulants

According to the CDC, first-generation anticoagulants (FGARs) are those that were developed before 1970. first-generation anticoagulants become more toxic with each successive feeding. They rarely kill rodents after a single feeding. As a result, they tend to be less successful than second-generation rodenticides. Common first-generation anticoagulants include:

  • Chloropophacinone
  • Diphacinone
  • Warfarin

Consumers can purchase non-fillable ready-to-use or fillable bait stations containing bromethalin, chlorophacinone, or diphacinone. The baits for these bait stations are available in block, paste, and pellet form. 

Chloropophacinone: Chloropophacinone is an anticoagulant rodenticide that is only lethal after multiple feedings. When compared to second-generation anticoagulants, it has a low secondary poisoning risk. However, that is not to say that it does not pose a threat to non-target wildlife. 

Diphacinone: Diphacinone is a first-generation anticoagulant that is usually lethal to rodents after multiple feedings. It has a higher secondary poisoning risk than diphacinone. 

Warfarin: Warfarin is also an anticoagulant rodenticide. It is only toxic after multiple feedings.

Second-Generation Anticoagulants

Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) were developed after the 1970s. Second-generation anticoagulants are not dependent on multiple successive feedings. These rodenticides are very likely to kill rodents after a single feeding. 

These toxins also remain inside of rodents’ bodies for more extended periods. For this reason, they pose an extended risk to children, wildlife, and pets. 

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has restricted consumers from purchasing second-generation coagulants, including those with the following active ingredients:

  • brodifacoum
  • bromadiolone
  • difethialone
  • difenacoum 

Brodifacoum: Brodifacoum is a second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide that is lethal in a single dose. It has a high secondary poisoning risk. 

Bromadiolone: Bromadiolone is a second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide with a moderate secondary poisoning risk. 

Difethialone: Difethialone is a second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide with a high secondary poisoning risk. 

Difenacoum : Difenacoum is a second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide with a moderate secondary poisoning risk. 

Other Rodenticides

Consumers can also purchase ready-to-use bait stations that contain:

  • Bromethalin
  • Zinc phosphide
  • Cholecalciferol

Bromethalin: Bromethalin is not an anticoagulant. However, it is capable of killing rodents after a single feeding, usually within 24 hours of exposure. Popular brands of bromethalin baits include Fastrac and Top Gun. 

Cholecalciferol: Cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3, is a non-coagulant rodenticide that is toxic in low doses. It is typically used in conjunction with another rodenticide. Popular brands of cholecalciferol include Agrid3 and Terad3. 

Zinc phosphate: Zinc phosphate is an acute toxin that is capable of killing a rodent within hours of a single feeding. It is challenging to find zinc phosphate in the consumer market. However, some consumers prefer to use it because it has a low secondary kill risk. 

How Rodenticides Kill Rodents

As we mentioned before, rodenticides are split into two categories: anticoagulants and non-anticoagulants. Anticoagulants interfere with a rodent’s blood clotting capabilities. Meanwhile, anticoagulants may cause death through toxic gases, hypercalcemia, and other means.

Using Rodenticides in California

California residents must hire a licensed pesticide applicator if they wish to use second-generation rodenticides. These products are only sold in 8- and 16-pound containers. Their sales are highly regulated, as they are hazardous to children, household pets, livestock, and wildlife. 

With that said, there are a few second-generation rodenticides that have only been approved for use by agricultural producers. When pesticides are used in agricultural settings, they must be placed within 100 feet of man-made structures. They must also be removed before livestock are allowed to graze.

Using Rodenticides and Bait Boxes

Due to the toxicity of rodenticides, the state of California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have adopted regulations that are designed to improve the overall safety of consumers and professional pest control efforts. 

As a result, rodenticides must always be placed in tamper-proof containers. The containers must be placed in a way that is compliant with the regulations written on the pesticide or ready-to-use bait box’s label. 

Secondary Animal Poisoning

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages pest mitigation workers to use less hazardous alternatives to rodenticides.

Since 1994, there have been over 400 confirmed cases of wildlife poisoning from anticoagulant rodent baits in the state of California alone. The list of animals that have been harmed is lengthy; it includes birds of prey, scavenging animals, and predatory mammals. 

Many second-generation rodenticides are remarkably hazardous to small mammals and birds.

When non-target species are exposed to the contents of poisonous bait stations, there is often widespread damage. More often than not, the poisons are distributed through the food chain. This type of poisoning is called relay toxicity, and it can have devastating effects on localized ecosystems. 

Dogs and small children are especially susceptible to fast-acting second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. Exposure to rodenticides may be followed by lethargy, bleeding from the mouth, bleeding from the nose, and loss of color. In some cases, Vitamin K1 can be taken as an antidote. In other cases, victims will need full blood transfusions. 

With all that said, it is understandable that you might consider using rodenticides to avoid the devastating health and safety consequences that stem from a full-blown rodent infestation. Backed with an in-depth knowledge of first-generation, second-generation, and other rodenticides, you can make an informed and responsible decision about using bait boxes.

There are plenty of alternative techniques that you can use to control rodents. If your rodent infestation has gotten out of control, consider:

  • Setting Victor Rat traps (or other snap traps)
  • Plugging gaps and holes (rodent-proofing)
  • Installing high-frequency rodent deterrent machines
  • Performing routine housekeeping
  • Maintaining exterior plants
  • Eliminate sources of food and water (sprinklers, hoses, pet dishes, etc.
  • Keeping waste bin secured
  • Using glue boards
  • Setting live traps

Take all of the necessary steps to stop rodents from dwelling in and around your property. If you do not eliminate sources of food, water, and shelter, the rodents are likely to return. 

If you do opt to use rodenticides, make sure that you comply with all of California’s bait box regulations. 

Once you’ve eliminated your rodent infestation, it’s time to hire a rodent dropping cleaner. 

Eco Bear can help you eliminate unpleasant odors and harmful pathogens associated with rodent infestations. There’s no better feeling than regaining control of your home after a full-scale rodent infestation! We’re here for you 24/7!