Is Rat Bait an Effective Strategy to Address a Rat Infestation in Your Home or Business?

An unsettling experience can be the moment you learn that you have a rat infestation in your home or business. If this is the first time you face the prospect of having to deal with rats in your residence or business, you likely have many questions. In addition to the questions, you have the immediate inclination to go about dealing with a rat problem in your home or business on your own and without professional help. Thus, one of the questions you may find yourself pondering is whether or not rat bait is an effective underlying strategy to address in rat infestation at your home or business.

We present you with the essential information you need, including:

  • Health hazards of rats in your home or business
  • Common types of rat bait
  • Hazards of rat bait
  • Rat infestation prevention

An Initial Warning: Health Dangers of Rats in Home or Business

Before diving into the pros and cons of rat bait, you need to understand the potential severity of health risks that can be posed by rats in your home or business. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an array of diseases that can be caused by rats:

  • Salmonella
  • Hantavirus/hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
  • Leptospirosis
  • Plague
  • Rat bite fever
  • Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome
  • Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM)

These diseases can be caused in a number of different ways, including via rat bites and rat droppings. Because some of these pathogens can cause serious and even fatal disease, the prospect of infection underscores the necessity of eliminating rats in a house, business, or other location.

Types of Rat Bait

There is a trio of rat bait products that are most commonly used in the United States. These are:

  • Bromethalin
  • Vitamin-based
  • Anti-coagulants


Bromethalin is what is known as a neurotoxin. Bromethalin targets a rat’s brain and liver. Products containing bromethalin are what typically are labeled as “rat poison.” Bromethalin takes effect nearly immediately and begins to cause sodium accumulation in a rat’s liver and a buildup of fluid in its brain. When bromethalin is used, the rat typically dies within a couple of hours of consumption.

Despite the drawbacks associated with bromethalin, this is a highly effective means of ridding a home or business of rats. Not only is it 100% effective when consumed by a rat, because death happens so quickly, a home or business owner oftentimes is able to avoid having rats crawl into an extremely difficult to reach area to die, as is the case with products that take a longer period of time to work


Another category of rat bait products is classified as vitamin based. These products flood a rat’s body with fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin D. This overload of vitamins causes rodents to die. Death takes a bit longer than is the case with bromethalin. Death occurs in about a day after ingestion.

Although not as effective a rat eradicator as is bromethalin, vitamin-based products do work well. If a rat only ingests a small amount of this vermicide, the rodent may survive an initial dose, however.


A final type of rat bait is classified as an anti-coagulant. These products impact the rodent’s blood. Death usually occurs in a matter of a few days.

Anti-coagulant products are generally the least effective of this trio of rat baits presented here for your consideration. If a rat ingests only a fractional dose of the product, it will not die. Moreover, because death doesn’t occur for an extended period after ingestion, and a rat will feel ill for some period of time, the rodent is apt to retreat to an even more secluded area than normal. This may make retrieving the rat’s remains after death challenging.

Hazards of Rat Bait

Unfortunately, while rat bait can be effective at killing rats, they present different levels of risk to people and pets. Each of the types of rat bait discussed thus far present different levels and types of risks to people and pets.


Bromethalin is highly dangerous to people and pets. Thus, it is not recommended for us if you’ve children or pets living in your home.

There is no treatment for bromethalin ingestion. The best that can be done is for medical professionals to provide supportive treatment in hopes a person lives through the aftermath of ingestion. Similarly, there is nothing that can be done to treat a pet that ingests the poison either. In addition to no antidote existing for bromethalin ingestion, there is nothing available that actually identifies bromethalin poisoning in people or pets.


Although not as dangerous to people and pets as is bromethalin, vitamin-based can still be a hazard to people and pets. Thus, serious consideration should be given using vitamin-based in a household that has children or pets. There are treatments and remedies for ingesting this type of rat bait, however.


Anti-coagulants are yet another form of rat bait the presents a threat to the health and wellbeing of humans. Once again, the recommendation is that this type of rat bait not be used in a household with children or pets. As is the case with vitamin-based bait, there are treatments for this type of product.

Prevention is the Key

When it comes to protecting a home or business against rats, the best strategy is to effectively prevent an infestation in the first instance. Prevention strategies include:

  • Blocking any holes of cracks into a home or business through which a rat is capable of entering. Bear in mind that a rat can fit through a space as small as a U.S. quarter.
  • Keep trash cans inside and outside of a residence or business tightly sealed.
  • Do not leave food – including pet food – lying around a home, business, or other location.
  • Avoid planting bushes and shrubbery directly next to a building.
  • Keep trees trimmed and ensure branches do not extend over a roof.
  • Eliminate any puddles of water or dripping inside and outside a building.
  • Do not place a woodpile directly next to a building.
  • Clean up dog or cat feces in a yard daily.