Will Rat Poison Kill Squirrels?

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Squirrels are notorious for invading homes, damaging property, and causing headaches for homeowners. In an attempt to eliminate these pesky critters, many people consider using rat poison as a solution to their squirrel problem.

But will rat poison actually kill squirrels? This blog post will delve into the effectiveness of rat poison on squirrels, the potential risks involved in using this method, and explore alternative humane options for squirrel control.

Key Takeaways

Rat poison should not be used on squirrels.
Rat poison is ineffective on squirrels because they aren’t attracted to the bait like rats and mice. Squirrels also have a much higher resistance to the poison.
Using rat poison for squirrels may even be illegal in your jurisdiction since you would not be using the product as intended.
Rather that using rat poison for squirrels, try other methods such as sealing entry points, removing food and water sources, using natural deterrents such as cayenne pepper, or trapping and relocating

Understanding Rat Poison

Rat poison comes in various types, including anticoagulant and non-anticoagulant poisons, that work by disrupting blood clotting or causing neurological damage to the targeted animals.

Types Of Rat Poison

Rat poison, also known as a rodenticide, is available in various forms to tackle rodent problems.

Anticoagulant rodenticides are the most prevalent and work by disrupting a rodent’s blood clotting ability, leading to internal bleeding and eventually death. 

These poisonous substances come in two generations – first-generation anticoagulants like warfarin and chlorophacinone require multiple feedings for the rodents to receive a lethal dose; second-generation anticoagulants like brodifacoum and difenacoum are more potent, requiring only one feeding for them to be fatal.

Nerve poisons such as bromethalin target the central nervous system of rodents and cause seizures, paralysis, and death within hours of ingestion.

It’s essential to understand these different types of rat poison before using them in order not only to eliminate the intended pests effectively but also to minimize harm or risk posed on non-target animals living nearby.

Unopened D-Con Rat Poison on White Background

Effectiveness Of Rat Poison

Rat poison is widely used as a pest control method due to its potency and effectiveness in eliminating rodent infestations. This powerful pesticide works by disrupting the blood clotting process, ultimately leading to internal bleeding and the death of the targeted pests.

While rat poison can be extremely effective against rats and mice, it does not guarantee the same level of success for other animals like squirrels.

Squirrels may present an issue by consuming tainted bait, which can lead to unintentional poisoning or weakened physical condition before dying. 

Furthermore, using rat poison on squirrels brings with it a myriad of risks that extend beyond just inefficacy—poisoned squirrels could potentially harm non-target species, such as predatory birds or even domestic pets who prey upon them.

In addition to these environmental hazards, there’s also the risk posed by improperly stored poisons around children or family members susceptible to accidental ingestion.

Risks Of Using Rat Poison On Squirrels

Using rat poison to control squirrels carries several risks. 

Safety Concerns For Pets And Children

Using rat poison to tackle a squirrel problem poses significant safety risks for both pets and children. The toxic chemicals found in rodenticides can have severe, even fatal, consequences if ingested by curious toddlers or family pets.

For example, a dog may accidentally come into contact with poisoned bait while playing in the yard or during a walk through the neighborhood.

In addition to direct ingestion of the poison itself, secondary poisoning is another critical concern when using rat poison around your home. Pets or wildlife that consume an animal already poisoned with rodenticides are at risk of internal harm due to toxicity from eating their prey.

Children who touch contaminated surfaces may unknowingly transfer these harmful substances onto their toys or even food leading to accidental intake.

Potential Harm To Non-Target Animals

Using rat poison to control squirrels can have unintended and harmful consequences for other wildlife. 

The chemicals in rodenticides can kill not only rats but also non-target animals like birds, foxes, deer, and even family pets.

These toxic substances also pose a significant risk to ecosystem health and biodiversity. When one species dies off or becomes scarce due to poisoning, it affects the entire food chain as these animals play crucial roles in maintaining ecological balance.

Newly Opened D-Con Rat Poison on White Background

Ineffectiveness On Squirrels

Using rat poison is not an effective way to control squirrels. Unlike rats, squirrels are not attracted by the bait and will usually avoid it altogether. Even if they consume the poison, it may not kill them as they have a higher resistance than rats.

Additionally, if pets or small children accidentally ingest or touch the poisoned bait, they, too, can become sick or worse.

Signs And Symptoms Of Squirrel Poisoning

If you suspect a squirrel has been poisoned, it is important to look out for signs such as lethargy, seizures, and difficulty breathing.

What To Look Out For

If you suspect that a squirrel has been poisoned by rat bait, there are several signs and symptoms to be aware of. Keep an eye out for lethargy, weakness, or coughing in squirrels in your yard or nearby trees.

If the poison has affected their nervous system, they may display neurological symptoms such as muscle twitching, seizures, or a stiffened neck.

It’s important to seek veterinary care immediately if you notice any of these symptoms in animals exposed to rat poison. Time is critical when it comes to treating poisoning cases, as internal bleeding can occur within hours after ingestion and lead to serious complications or death.

Seeking Immediate Veterinary Care

If you suspect that your pet has ingested rat poison or any form of squirrel bait poison, it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary care. Poisoning symptoms can vary from lethargy and weakness to coughing and vomiting.

In severe cases, pets may experience difficulty breathing. Bleeding disorders are also a possibility since anticoagulant rodenticides are the most common type of poison used in rodent control.

Without quick treatment, poisoning can cause permanent damage or even be fatal to pets like cats and dogs. If you suspect your pet has ingested rat poison, don’t hesitate to contact an emergency veterinarian right away for guidance on what steps to take next.

Alternatives To Rat Poison For Squirrel Control

Consider humane alternatives like live trapping and relocation, habitat modification, and the use of natural repellents to deter squirrels from your property instead of resorting to rat poison.

Live Trapping And Relocation

Live trapping and relocation are humane and effective ways to control squirrel populations without resorting to deadly rat poison. This method involves setting up traps that capture squirrels alive, allowing them to be released elsewhere without harm.

Before attempting live trapping and relocation, check local wildlife laws for regulations on proper disposal or euthanasia methods if necessary. 

Additionally, preventive measures such as removing access points and sealing off potential nesting sites can help limit the need for intervention in the first place.

Habitat Modification

There are various effective ways to modify your property to discourage squirrels from dwelling and causing damage.

For instance, removing bird feeders can prevent attracting squirrels into your yard.

Another tip is using metal collars around tree trunks which will prevent these rodents from climbing up wire mesh fences or other barriers surrounding small gardens. 

Habitat modification also involves removing potential nesting sites, such as piles of unattended leaves in your backyard that may house tree squirrel nests.


Repellents are a popular alternative to rat poison when it comes to squirrel control. These eco-friendly products work by using natural scents that squirrels find unpleasant, such as peppermint, garlic, or capsaicin.

You can also use physical barriers such as chicken wire or aluminum foil.

The idea is to create an undesirable environment for the squirrels and make them want to stay away from your property.

When choosing a repellent product, look for those that are bird-friendly and safe for other wildlife, such as dogs and cats.

However, keep in mind that repellents might not be 100% effective in keeping squirrels away since some animals may get used to the scent over time or if they become hungry enough.

Legal And Ethical Concerns

Using rat poison for squirrel control can have serious legal and ethical consequences as it not only harms non-target animals but violates laws on wildlife conservation, making humane alternatives a better option.

Ecological Impact

Killing squirrels with rat poison or any other lethal control methods could have disastrous consequences on the environment. 

Squirrels play an essential role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, as they help to disperse seeds and serve as food for predators such as hawks and owls.

The use of rodenticides can cause unintended harm to non-target animals like birds of prey, which often feed on poisoned rodents. 

In fact, according to recent studies, over 80 percent of eagles in BC that were tested positive for toxic contaminants had ingested rat poison-laced prey or scavenged carrion-containing toxins from rodenticide.

This highlights the importance of using humane wildlife control methods that do not risk harming other animals in search of pest eradication solutions.

Legal Consequences

Using rat poison to kill squirrels can lead to legal consequences if not used within the prescribed laws and regulations. Most states require a license to use rodenticides for squirrel control.

If you don’t obtain one, it could result in hefty penalties or fines. Additionally, using rat poison that puts non-target animals like birds of prey at risk violates hunting regulations and poses ethical concerns about animal welfare.

How To Safely Dispose Of Rat Poison

If you have used rat poison to control rodents in your property, you need to make sure you dispose of it safely and properly.

Follow Manufacturer Guidelines

Following the manufacturer’s guidelines when disposing of rat poison is crucial. These guidelines help prevent harm not only to people but also to wildlife and the environment.

Improper disposal of hazardous waste, such as rat poison, can contaminate soil and groundwater, leading to further environmental damage. 

Furthermore, it is important to note that specific manufacturers may have unique disposal procedures for their products, so be sure to always find out what those are for every new product you plan on using.

For instance, some manufacturers might suggest rinsing empty containers with water before disposing of them in landfills after use, while others recommend placing contaminated materials inside two plastic bags before throwing them away in a specially designated waste site area.

Avoid Contaminating Soil, Groundwater, Or Other Wildlife

Safe disposal of rat poison is vital to prevent environmental contamination and protect other forms of wildlife. Improperly disposed of rodenticides can cause groundwater pollution, soil pollution, and chemical toxicity to humans and animals alike.

To avoid such incidents, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on safely disposing of rat poison.

Also, if you suspect a non-target animal has ingested poisoned bait, do not let them suffer in silence; seek immediate veterinary care for your pet or call a licensed exterminator if needed.

Choose Humane And Effective Methods For Squirrel Control

Opt for humane and effective methods for squirrel control, such as prevention measures, removing food sources and potential nesting sites, natural deterrents, or trapping and relocating squirrels.

Prevention Measures For Keeping Squirrels Away

Preventing squirrels from entering your property helps keep them away from your garden and home. 

One way to do this is by using exclusion methods such as securing strong wire mesh around gardens, sealing off entry points in attics and roofs, and trimming tree branches that lead onto the roof to prevent access.

Removing Food Sources

One of the most effective ways to control and prevent squirrel infestations is by removing their food sources. Squirrels are attracted to birdseed, nuts, and fruits that can be found in yards or gardens.

To reduce their access to these foods, start by cleaning up any fallen fruit or seeds on the ground.

Another way to remove potential food sources for squirrels is by removing any potential nesting sites, such as old sheds or piles of wood.

Sealing Off Entry Points

Another effective method for controlling squirrel infestations is by sealing off entry points. Squirrels are agile and can fit through small holes or gaps in roofs, walls, or chimneys to gain access to your property.

Sealing off entry points not only helps keep squirrels out but also prevents other pests from entering your home, such as rats, mice, bats, and birds. This method is an eco-friendly solution that doesn’t harm wildlife and saves costs on expensive removal services.

Removing Potential Nesting Sites

Squirrels love to nest in cozy spots, such as attics or crawl spaces. Therefore, removing potential nesting sites can effectively prevent them from establishing a presence on private property.

The first step is to inspect the outside of your house and seal any openings, including cracks or gaps around pipes and vents, with materials such as steel wool or expanding foam.

Trees that are close to the house should also be trimmed back to prevent easy access.

By removing potential nesting sites, homeowners can significantly decrease the likelihood of squirrel activity on their property.

Natural Deterrents

There are several natural deterrents that can be used to keep squirrels away from your property without causing harm. One of the most effective is cayenne pepper, which squirrels dislike and will avoid.

Simply sprinkle it around areas where you want to discourage them from entering, such as bird feeders or flower beds.

There are a few other natural deterrents that are commonly used – cinnamon, peppermint oil, and moth balls.

However, it’s important to note that these methods may not completely eliminate your squirrel problem on their own. 

Trapping And Relocation

Using live traps to catch squirrels and then relocating them may seem like a humane solution to squirrel infestations. However, it’s important to understand that trapping and relocation are not permanent solutions and rarely end well for wildlife.

Relocated squirrels may struggle to adapt to their new surroundings, find food, or be preyed upon by animals in the new area.

Instead of trapping and relocating squirrels, homeowners should focus on using effective methods such as repellents or habitat modification to keep them away from the property.

For those dealing with California ground squirrels specifically, burrow fumigants or toxic baits may be necessary control methods. While lethal traps are also an option for gray squirrels, it’s crucial to use a trap size appropriate for that specific species and follow all safety guidelines when setting up traps.

Definitely don’t use rat traps for squirrels. They simply aren’t big enough and strong enough and they rarely kill the squirrel. This results in a squirrel trapped with an injury suffering.


If you have a rat problem in your home or property, you need to act fast and cover all the holes where they can enter. This will help prevent further damage and health risks caused by these pesky rodents. 

However, finding and covering all the holes can be challenging and time-consuming, especially if you have a large or severe infestation. 

You may want to contact a professional service like Conquer Critters. They have the expertise and experience to handle any rat situation and provide you with a lasting solution. 

Photo of author
Sean is the founder of Conquer Critters. With more than 17 years of experience in dealing with various pests, he is passionate about spreading his knowledge to help everyone manage their pest problem in the fastest, most effective manor possible.

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