You may choose to use poison to kill rats and mice and other rodents around your home. These poisons come with risks. Find out how to keep yourself, pets and everyone around you safe.
111 in an emergency
Healthline on 0800 611 116 for medical advice
National Poisons Centre on 0800 764 766 for poisons advice
Use and store poison with care. Poison is harmful to us and the environment. Always read the label and follow the instructions.
Keep poisons well away from children and pets. When you are laying out poison, make sure it is in a place they cannot reach. Watch babies and young children carefully until all the poison is gone. Store unused poisons high up in a locked cupboard.
Get advice about which poison to use. Also think about using other methods to control and get rid of these pests.
Before you begin
- Only buy what you need.
- Put on gloves before you open the packaging.
- Read the label and follow the instructions. The label has all the information you need to keep yourself and others safe. It tells you the precautions you need to take, for example, wearing gloves or what to do in an emergency.
- Using a bait station is recommended. The bait station should have a floor so the poison is contained and doesn't get scattered around.
- If the poison does not come with its own container or bait station, find a suitable container to use and make sure it is strong and sturdy. Never use food or drink containers: they might encourage children to eat or drink what’s inside.
- Decide where to place the poison. Choose somewhere that babies, children and pets can’t get to or reach. Make sure the poison is on a flat surface and keep it away from water, food or pet food.
Laying out the poison
- Follow the instructions on the label.
- Wear gloves, and check the label to see if you should wear anything else to protect yourself, such as goggles or long-sleeved clothes to cover your skin.
- Check again that children and pets can’t get to it. Make sure it’s nowhere near water, food or pet food.
- Clean up spilled poison immediately, and wear gloves.
- Put away leftover poison as soon as you have finished. Make sure it is stored safely.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and any parts of your skin that may have been exposed.
Keep checking for dead rodents
- Check for dead rodents every day.
- Follow the instructions on the label to dispose of the bodies safely. The bodies can carry germs and may have poison in them. Protect yourself and keep away from children, and pets and other animals.
- Regularly check the poison you have laid out. Make sure it stays out of reach of children and babies, and is still inside its container. Watch your pets.
- Keep poisons in their original bottles or boxes. This is really important – it will make sure you have all the safety information on the label.
- Never put poisons in food or drink containers.
- Seal all containers properly before you put them away and wipe up any spills.
- Store poison high up, in a locked cupboard or cabinet.
- Keep well away from water, food or pet food.
Getting rid of poison
- Securely wrap unused or uneaten poison, and bait stations and containers and take them to your local landfill.
- Do not keep bait stations and containers or use them for any other purpose.
Before you use poison, look at other methods to control rats, mice, and other pests from getting in to your home.
- Seal gaps or holes inside and outside your house.
- You can often patch large holes with wood or stuff small holes with steel wool or tinfoil.
- Remove rodent nesting sites from your property, including leaf piles and deep mulch.
- Check if there are food or water sources for rodents in or near your house.
- Rubbish bins can be attractive to rats and mice, so make sure bins have a tight-fitting lid.
- Turn over compost piles to cover up new food scraps.
For a severe problem, you could try a more hands-on method or use a professional pest removal company.
- Live traps – they don’t kill rats and mice, so before you use them consider what you would do with the trapped animal.
- Lethal traps – they kill rats and mice. Be careful to put them in places where children or pets can’t get to them.
- Professional pest removal – search online to find a pest removal company in your area. They may use poison or traps, or a combination of the two.
You may see poison when you are out in the bush or other public places.
If you spend time in the bush and other outdoor areas, you may see signs telling you there are poisons being used to control pests like possums, rats, stoats, and feral pigs.
Two common poisons are brodifacoum and 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) but many other types of poison are used too.
You will usually see signs that tell you which poison has been used and what you should do to keep safe. The sign should also give details of when the poison was used, and who to contact if you have any questions.
If possible, stay out of areas where you see these signs. If you must enter the area:
- don’t touch anything you think might be a poison bait; they often small, and dyed a blue-green colour
- keep a close watch on small children and warn older children of the risks
- keep dogs on a leash and keep them well fed and hydrated.
- stay clear of dead animals; dogs are particularly sensitive to 1080 and must be kept away from bait and carcasses.
Contact us at the Environmental Protection Authority at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have concerns about a poison operation, or find a sign you think does not have enough information.