Using poison rat baits around cats and dogs

Asked September 19, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT

I requested information about Norway rats which are under my deck and are "invading other areas of Old Greenbelt". I received a prompt reply with an Extension publication. We were able to trap and drown humanely one rat, but after that, no more.
Would it be dangerous to use poison baits under the deck? My cats and raccoons have gone under it. If my cat attacks a poisoned rat still alive, will he ingest some of the poison? I am nervous to go this route. Also my neighbor in the Cooperative in which I live, understandably does not want me to use them either (she has two large dogs). Even my cat who hunts even larger birds (which I don't like him doing) is afraid of the rats under the deck (I hope there are not snakes there either!).

I am afraid of the rats getting in my attic and home during the winter months and also reproducing inside and outdoors. Mice have lived in my attic in the winter months -- these are very old homes dating back to the 1940s and less.

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

We are not clear if you used the recommended rat snap trap or something else? Snap traps are humane as the death is quick (no panic).
Rats can be wily, in that once they know a trap snaps, they learn to avoid them. For that reason it is commonly recommended to bait the traps (without setting) and let them take the bait a few times before actually setting them. They love peanut butter and bacon grease, which can be smeared onto some cotton ball fibers.
Poisons can be problematic due to a pretty good potential of killing non-target species, including birds, chipmunks, pets etc. If you do try it, we'd suggest pushing the bait deeply down the hole.
If you haven't already, you may want to call the Dept. of Natural Resources Wildlife Hotline: 877-463-6497 and the National Pesticide Information Center: 1-800-858-7378 for their take.
A word about snakes. They are the good guys. It is possible, perhaps likely that you have them under there, because they help control rodent populations by eating them. Sometimes it helps to know more about them to understand their value and the many false myths about them Here's our info on snakes:
As far as your attic goes, try to tighten up all cracks and around utility entries with foam-spray insulation. Make sure that vents have hardware cloth/metal screening to prevent entry. If you have trees over-hanging your roof line, trim those back to prevent easy access. Again, snap traps are your best option for those you find inside.