Readers' Digest Rodenticides
Saturday July 14, 2012
Could you tell me a little about rodenticides? A history of the transition from multiple dose to single dose, acute vs. anticoagulants, their toxicity to humans and the different classes of them?
Marcus F., FL
This is a pretty wide topic, so this will be a very abbreviated history as I can remember it. Certainly the first toxicants used to kill pest rodents were natural substances that were available in plants or minerals, such as arsenic (a mineral), cyanide (from a family of salts but also present in many plants), and strychnine (from the seeds of a tree). These are all extremely acute poisons that killed any animal that ate the bait laced with them, and bait avoidance due to eating sub-lethal doses was a possible concern along with the deaths of too many unintended animals. Other early active ingredients included Red Squill, Thallium sulfate, ANTU, and 1080, and each had its benefits and its problems. Another early product was zinc phosphide, and of course this and strychnine are still used in a limited number of rodent baits today.
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