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Rat poisons the wrong choice

By Staff | Apr 27, 2023

In the wake of Hurricane Ian and the collateral damage that continues to ripple, the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife have become more than besties for Cape creatures great and small — they have become guard dogs.

The wildlife advocacy and protection organization first called attention to the downside of debris cleanups along Cape canals, pointing out that clear-cutting vegetation to reach the water would disrupt habitats and oust nesting birds and other species.

Now they are pleading for some common sense and kindness as displaced critters — some not so welcome– are turning up in backyards in the wake of all the hurricane-related disruption, including downed trees and destroyed buildings.

While we may not often see them, mice and three species of rats are part of our natural ecosystem.

They love palm trees. They like bird seed. And yes, they will get into your home via a roof vent or dryer duct or gnaw their way into your pool cage or lanai.

The Friends of Wildlife, along with virtually all organizations that work to protect native species, are asking that rodenticides not be the go-to when a rodent problem rears its beady-eyed head.

Rat poisons of nearly all types will kill animals higher up the food chain, including owls, eagles, hawks and more. Sickly, dying and dead rats are an enticing treat for birds of prey and other hunting predators.

Rat poisons of nearly all types will seriously injure or kill dogs and cats. The same ingredients that entice rodents are appealing to pets and an easy-to-catch or dead delicacy may be too much to pass up.

The consequences can be deadly and the suffering great whether it be to the rat, which can bleed to death internally over a series of days, or to that burrowing owl that catches it, that eaglet to which it is fed, or to Fluffy who proudly pounced on a snack.

There are better and more humane options for do-it-yourself rodent eradicators such as quick-kill snap-traps or electric devices (but not glue traps).

Or you can make your property a little less enticing to Mr. Rat and so mitigate your problem without harming protected species, including the Cape’s burrowing owls.

The Humane Society offers some advice to homeowners on their website, humanesociety.org:

• Clear away any rubbish, old wood or brush from the property. This includes any remaining hurricane debris.

• Store food in rat-proof containers, such as galvanized cans with tight-fitting lids. This includes birdseed, grass seed, and other possible foods kept in garages and/or outbuildings.

• Store and dispose of garbage properly.

• If you feed your pets outside, leave the food out for just long enough to be eaten, and then remove it.

• Clean up pet waste from the yard every day.

• Seal holes and other openings or cover them with appropriate screening, including dryer and roof vents.

We understand that rodent relief is necessary.

But toxic rodenticides bought at the big box store or online are not only the wrong choice, they are a deadly choice for our ecosystem.

There are better options out there.

Please choose one.

— Breeze editorial