For some homeowners who are frustrated with squirrels wreaking havoc on their property, the idea of using rat poison to kill these critters has probably been considered.
But will rat poison kill squirrels, and should you use it?
Read this guide to find out.
Table of Contents
Will Rat Poison Kill Squirrels?
Rat poison is a readily available pest control method that you can pick up poison at many big box stores and often have a decent selection of choices. From easy-to-disperse pellets to flavored bait bars, it’s not hard to get your hands on these lethal products.
Because they’re so readily available, many homeowners have toyed with the idea of using rat poison to kill squirrels.
These toxic products clearly work well on rodents that can invade your homes and possibly spread disease. But what about squirrels?
Squirrels can be pests, too. They have a knack for ruining bird feeders, marring pristine yards, and even getting into homes through attics! Most people see them as nothing but a minor backyard annoyance, but squirrels can do plenty of damage that forces you to look into control methods.
The short answer is that rat poison will kill squirrels. The stuff is toxic to a wide variety of animals!
Technically speaking, squirrels are part of the rodent family. They’re about the same size as rats, and the poisons affect these animals similarly.
There are a few different kinds of rat poisons on the market today that you could use to kill squirrels. The most common utilizes anticoagulants mixed with noxious chemicals. The chemicals work to weaken the blood vessels. In only a day or two, they become weakened enough that the squirrel experiences internal hemorrhaging.
Once that bleeding occurs, the anticoagulants make it impossible for the blood to clot. As a result, the rodent dies a slow and painful death.
Anticoagulant-based poisons are most common. However, you might come across others that use phosphide or calciferol. The former creates toxic gas when it comes in contact with stomach acid. Meanwhile, the latter causes calcification of the organs.
Both anticoagulant alternatives take a bit longer than the standard formulas, but they work nonetheless.
Rat poisons can kill squirrels quite easily, but does that mean you should use them?
Should You Use It?
Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s always the best option. Rat poison can kill squirrels, but there are some serious drawbacks you need to think about before you pursue this method.
Here are a few reasons to reconsider using rat poisons.
Hit Or Miss Effectiveness
One of the biggest challenges of using rat poison to kill squirrels is getting these critters to actually eat the stuff!
You see, rats are notoriously opportunistic. They rummage through garbage and will eat just about anything they can get their grimy little hands on. As a result, most rats will eat poison without even pausing for consideration.
Many manufacturers also combine the poison with edible foodstuffs that the rodents might like. It’s more of a poisoned bait than anything else. Either way, rats scarf the poison down without needing much convincing.
That’s not the case with squirrels. They’re not as needy as rodents, and their tastes are more discerning. Both rats and squirrels love nuts, so peanut butter-based poisons can work well, but there’s no guarantee.
Squirrels are pickier about what they eat. They prefer whole nuts for storage, so they might not always eat rat poison they find outside.
While the rat poison will certainly kill a squirrel that ingests it, getting the pest to eat it is half the battle. Don’t expect the same universal effectiveness with squirrels as with rats.
Here’s where some people have a harder time than others. Is killing squirrels a humane way to approach your pest issue? No matter how committed you are to the welfare of animals, there’s no denying that poisoning is an awful way to die.
We’ve already talked about what these poisons do. Most products will kill squirrels in a day or two. Others might take a week.
Either way, it’s a slow process that doesn’t occur instantly. The squirrels you poison will suffer, which can present an ethical concern for many people.
You might not care too much about the pests ruining your garden and making your backyard space challenging to enjoy. But there are more ethical and humane solutions you can try before resorting to rat poison for killing squirrels.
Here’s another thing to think about: Whether it’s legal or not for you to use rat poison to kill squirrels where you live.
In some jurisdictions, using rat poison for anything other than rats is illegal. That’s why the product labeling is so focused. If there weren’t many regulations, you’d likely see it being marketed as a universal pest killer.
Many locations forbid the use of rat poison outdoors as well. If you use it out in the open, you might have to put it in a tamper-proof container to ensure that larger animals don’t ingest it.
Expert Tip: Laws vary dramatically from one location to the next. Before you even consider using rat poison to kill squirrels, do your due diligence. The last thing you want to deal with is steep penalties and fines.
Potential Environmental Damage
Environmentally, rat poison can do a lot of harm.
As you can probably guess, this poison isn’t exclusively harmful to animals in the Rodentia family. Anticoagulants and toxic chemicals affect all living beings. While it does so differently, rat poison can kill many other animals beyond squirrels.
There’s no way to ensure that only squirrels eat the poison, so you risk severely harming animals in your local area’s ecosystem. In addition to killing squirrels, you might kill raccoons, birds, foxes, deer, and many other critters.
The entire food chain experiences trouble, and the animal population could decline. That sounds dramatic, but you’d be surprised at what’s possible from improperly using poison on your property. It’s not just the squirrels you’ll hurt.
Risk Of Injury & Illness
Finally, using rat poison to kill squirrels comes with a risk of injury to humans and pets. This is a negative aspect we can’t ignore.
Exposure to rat poison can be deadly to pets and children. Pets can fall prey to the allure of poison, just like squirrels and rats. The toxin can wreak havoc on their system depending on how much they eat and how big they are (which is also why mothballs for squirrels aren’t ideal).
Not only can it cause kidney and liver damage, but eating a lot of poison could lead to death for your furry friend.
Unfortunately, the same goes for small children. They don’t know any better, and accidental exposure could be dangerous.
You need to think about the worst-case scenario if you have kids or pets.
Will D-Con Kill Squirrels?
D-Con is a brand of “mouse and rat killer.” It’s one of the most widely used rodent control products in the United States. So, how does it stack up against squirrels?
This brand has a slightly different approach to killing rodents. It used to utilize the same old anticoagulants as other manufacturers. However, it moved away from that method in favor of cholecalciferol in the form of Vitamin D3.
It works similarly to standard calciferol. Essentially, the poison causes blood calcium levels to rise to dangerous levels. It wreaks havoc on the rodent’s kidneys and livers, leading to a slow death.
D-Con can kill squirrels. But it has the same risks and negative aspects as traditional rat poison.
Are Squirrels Attracted To Rat Poison?
As mentioned earlier, squirrels aren’t super attracted to rat poison. They have more discerning tastes in food and aren’t desperate to eat everything they find.
Rats will consume poisons without much thought, and the scented or flavored additives make it more appealing than standard garbage. But those same attractants don’t have much effect on a squirrel.
Squirrels might investigate and even give the poison a taste. But if there’s a better food option lying around outside, squirrels are more likely to go after than instead. For example, most will ignore the poison in favor of the nuts from your bird feeder or the fruits from your garden.
For this reason, rat poison for killing squirrels can be a hit or miss strategy. There’s no guarantee, and the chances of success are much lower for these tree-dwelling pests than other rodents.
You can mix the poison with other foods. But again, your results will vary. There’s no way to mimic acorns and nuts using poison, so your best bet is to hope that the squirrels are particularly hungry or other food supplies are scarce.
Methods To Try Instead
If you’d rather not go down the road of using rat poison to kill squirrels, there are plenty of other alternatives you can try.
Those looking for a similar way to kill squirrels can turn to animal-specific poisons. Squirrel poison products do exist. They usually contain different chemicals and attractants, making them more appealing. Of course, there are no guarantees, but you might see better success with a product that targets squirrels.
Bait stations are also available. Placing them near trees and burrows can help you tackle the squirrel problem with minimal issues to other wildlife.
Ultimately, the best solution to dealing with pest squirrels is to trap them or find ways to keep them away. You can actually deter them with peppermint oil or even coffee grounds! If you need help, contact your local pest control company for assistance. They can humanely trap the squirrel and relocate it to a better place, letting you enjoy your backyard in peace!
Rat poison will kill squirrels, but we highly recommend trying other options before you settle on this method. There are plenty of ways you can deal with these animals without having to manage all of the potential downsides that come with rat poison!
If you’re still not convinced, send us a message. We’re more than happy to help you figure out what to try next.