Oh, rats! | Living the Country Life

Oh, rats!

New EPA rules require bait stations for poison.

You can't scatter loose rat bait pellets around the barn anymore. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now requires that all rat and mice poisons marketed to residential consumers be enclosed in bait stations to better safeguard children and pets. The rules, which went into effect in 2011, were issued after a scientific review of 10 different rodenticide active ingredients: brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, difenacoum, bromethalin, cholecalciferol, chlorophacinone, diphacinone, warfarin, and zinc phosphide. Researchers weighed the human and environmental risks against the public health and other benefits associated with these ingredients.

Based on the review, the EPA concluded that certain types of active ingredients and product forms present more danger than others. The EPA put limits on access to second-generation anticoagulants (brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, difenacoum) and some product forms.

Inside the house

For residential users, the new bait rules mean:

  • No pelleted baits allowed.
  • No second-generation anticoagulants allowed.
  • Bait stations are mandatory with all bait purchases.
  • Package sizes are restricted to 1 pound of bait or less.


Inside the barn

For farm and agricultural users, the new rules mean:

  • Second-generation anticoagulants must be sold in 8-pound or larger sizes.
  • First-generation anticoagulants and nonanticoagulants must be sold in 4-pound or larger sizes.
  • Bait stations are required for all outdoor, above-ground placements, and must be within 50 feet of agricultural buildings.
  • Bait stations are required indoors if exposure to children, pets, or nontargets is possible.


Why the change?

Children can be at risk for exposure to rat and mouse poisons because the products are often placed on floors where youngsters can find them and put them into their mouths. The American Association of Poison Control Centers annually receives from 12,000 to 15,000 reports of children under the age of 6 being exposed to rat and mice poisons, according to the EPA.

Bait station security

The EPA has created four tiers of bait station security and quality.

  • Tier 1: This is the highest level of station security and quality. These stations have been kid- and dog-tested, and are for use indoors and outdoors.
  • Tier 2: These stations have been kid- and dog tested, and are for indoor use only.
  • Tier 3: These stations are kid-tested but not dog-tested, and are for indoor use only.
  • Tier 4: This is the lowest level of station security and quality. No tests have been conducted, and they can't be used near kids or dogs. They are for indoor use only.


Other options

Would you rather avoid using poisons all together? Try these EPA suggestions.

  • Seal holes inside and outside of your home to prevent entry by rats and mice.
  • Clean up potential rodent food sources and nesting sites.
  • Trap rodents outside the home to help reduce the rodent population within.
  • Clean up potential nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter.


Learn more



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