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Squirrels & Poison

Let’s face it, poison is one of the cheapest means to rid your home of a squirrel. 

But will poisoning and killing squirrels in your homes deter the next one from coming in? Consider how this option is a very inhumane means of getting squirrels out of the attic, and a surefire way of causing a whole slew of dangerous and unnecessary consequences.   The following delves a little deeper into poisons and why you should never use poisons on squirrels.

First, squirrels are not so easy to convince with poison.  Rodents as a whole are scavengers, and generally “taste” their food to see if suitable for eating. Therefore, poisons with any funny odors or strange flavors have a high probability of being discarded by the rodent. 

Assume the squirrel does decide that the poisoned food source is desirable.  Keep in mind that squirrels store their food for later use, especially in colder seasons.  You may have to wait some time before the proper dosage is ingested by the squirrel or squirrels.  The current market does have many options of odorless, tasteless poisons, and they are dangerous to everyone. 

Rodenticides fall in any of these chemical categories:

Angicoagulants—SLOW DEATH (1-2wks).  These poisons will disrupt the “Vitamin K cycle” in the rodent.  This cycle is essential for specific proteins to form blood clots. Anticoagulants will cause damage to blood vessels, resulting in hemorrhaging of the entire body.   This exhausts the animal in weakness and its inability to heal.  The liver, an organ essential for detoxing the body, is disabled of its functions. The rodent ultimately collapses of hypovolemic circuiatory shock and internal hemorrhaging. 

Metal Phosphides—Fast Death (1-3 days).  Zinc phosphide is the most common compound used in this category. Once eaten, a chemical reaction between the acids in the rodent’s stomach + the phosphides create phosphine gas.  Because rodents naturally lack the ability of a gag-reflex, once the bait is eaten it is processed.  This highly toxic gas ultimately enters the bloodstream, causing damage to the blood vessels and decreased amounts of oxygen to all major organs.  The animal suffers from loss of coordination, convulsions, paralysis, brain damage, capillary breakdown and again ending in cardiovascular collapse. 

Hypercalcemia—Death Varied (1-7 days).  This category involves the use of Vitamin D.  We know Vitamin D as a great benefit to our systems, however when taken in lethal quantities it causes hypercalcemia.  Hypercalcemia involves dangerously high calcium levels in the bloodstream (one would arrive at this when too much Vitamin D is in the system, allowing calcium to be absorbed.)  When ingested in such large quantities, the absorbed calcium levels will cause severe damage to the stomach wall, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. These tissues and organs will deteriorate due to calcium crystal formations, and ultimately the heart and kidneys will fail, and the animal will have internal bleeding.

Once you understand how these poisons affect an animal, it’s easier to see why this is inhumane.  Read on for more information as to why it is also ineffective.

Using poison requires you to use bait.  Having to bait your house will lure other unwanted guests, causing more work for you.  If the rodent does consume the poison, the amount of poison will determine how many days before dying.  This could be very painful for the animal, and like most injured mammals, they will seek solitude in their discomfort. This ultimately would lead to having a dead squirrel in crawl space, or other impossible part of your home. Retrieval will be difficult and costly! If the dead squirrel is left alone, it could take up to 6 weeks, possibly more, for the animal to fully decompose.  This all depends on the temperature, access for insects and size of the animal. 

Do you have any pets or small children?  This is one of the most important questions you should consider when dealing with squirrels in your attic.  If you were to use poison your pests, please realizes that you are putting your loved ones in danger as well.  Cats, dogs and small children may touch or ingest the poisonous bait, or touch the dead animal, if found.  Cats are the most susceptible to endangering their health because they are more agile and able to get into these hard to reach places.   In trying to rid your home of pests, you risk inflicting the same excruciating pain and horrible damage on your pets and children.

If all this information does not dishearten you from using rodenticides, consider this last warning:  some rodents will develop a sort of tolerance for certain poisons.  And breeding will produce a new generation of adapted pests.  Adapted pests would mean a need for stronger poisons, and more dangerous mixes.  This would greatly increase either the possibility of harming a loved one or allowing a stronger breed of rodent to succeed.  Your problem would only become worse.

In learning more about the horrendous effects of poisons and how they cause such agony before death, I would urge you to seek alternatives.  Whether your concerns lay in finding more humane ways of dealing with such creatures, or if you simply care about your family and own current state, there are other ways to solve the situation without imparting harm to anyone, and with lasting effects.