Rat Poisoning In Humans: Symptoms and Treatment

We often hear people compare different types of liquids (typically strong liquors) to rat poison. This whiskey is rat poison, that bourbon is rat poison, and so on. But what does this infamous substance include? Can rat poison actually kill you? In this article, we’ll discuss rat poison, the main symptoms of rat poisoning, and our treatment suggestions.

Disclaimer!

This article was written for informational purposes only. In no shape or form is it meant to constitute professional medical advice. If you suspect that you might be exhibiting symptoms of rat poisoning, don’t wait. Contact your doctor immediately! You can also visit poison.org and get help from one of their qualified experts.

How Common Is Rat Poisoning in Humans?

Most types of rat poison use common blood thinner chemicals to kill the little vermin. This means that the effects of rat poison on humans are what you’d expect from ingesting a large amount of a strong blood thinner.

Rat poisoning in humans works on the same principles as it does in rats. Thankfully, it takes a much higher dose in humans due to the difference in size and mass.

As a blood thinner, rat poison is typically safe to the physical touch. (As always, we’d still recommend that you use gloves.) It becomes truly dangerous, however, once ingested. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pesticide poisoning was the 10th biggest cause of poisoning in the US in 2011. It was responsible for roughly 40,000 emergencies that year. In 2012, rodenticides accounted for 11% of pesticide poisonings. By 2017, out of the approximately 2 million poisoning events reported to the National Capital Poison Center, pesticides accounted for roughly 3.5% of events in both children and adults. 

What Chemicals Do Rat Poisons Actually Contain?

The most standard type of rat poison that is approved for residential use will contain a blood thinner such as brodifacoum or other variations of warfarin.

For decades, the most common blood thinner in rat poison was warfarin. But rats have started to adapt and evolve resistance to warfarin. That means that modern rat poisons must use much more potent and powerful active ingredients. These stronger blood thinners work according to the same principle as warfarin but have the advantage of being much more concentrated, longer-lasting, and faster acting.

One such active ingredient is brodifacoum, which is often referred to as superwarfarin. The way that blood thinners such as brodifacoum work is that they reduce the Vitamin K in the body, thereby reducing the body’s blood clotting abilities. To a small degree, this is often beneficial for people who are at risk of blood clotting. On the other hand, if you reduce the blood clotting ability of the body too much, internal bleeding can occur.

Of course, other types of chemicals can constitute a rat poison. Zinc phosphide is one rat poison that can still be found in certain retail stores. In humans, this can cause cough, difficulty breathing, pulmonary edema, cardiomyopathy, shock, and other very serious health problems.

Strychnine is another infamous active ingredient in rat poison. It’s usually only approved for use by trained professionals. This is because strychnine can cause convulsions, breathing paralysis, and some very dangerous health risks.

Symptoms of Rat Poisoning

Rat poisoning symptoms can take from several hours to a couple of days to start presenting themselves. This will depend on your body mass, the amount of rat poison you’ve ingested, and the potency of the poison itself.

This lack of immediate symptoms is why the first thing you might (and should) notice is a problem with the rat poison container. For example, you might notice that the rat poison container in your kitchen has spilled and could have potentially contaminated your food. Or, you might notice that your child or pet has moved some furniture which had rat poison behind it. So, they might have had access to the poison and might have ingested it.

Observations like these can save you valuable time. They’ll help you start acting before the rat poisoning symptoms have started presenting themselves. But, if you miss these signs (or they just weren’t there in the first place), you’ll eventually start noticing some physical symptoms. The physical symptoms of rat poisoning include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Nosebleeds (despite a lack of physical trauma to the nose)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Bleeding gums (despite a lack of physical trauma to the mouth)
  • Bloody diarrhea (hematochezia)
  • Fatigue

More serious symptoms will indicate that the poisoning is reaching its later and most dangerous stages. These serious symptoms include seizures, heart attack, respiratory difficulties, liver failure, shock, internal bleedings, and coma.

Treatments for Rat Poisoning

If you think that you’ve been exposed to rat poison, our advice is to get to a doctor as soon as possible. You can also contact one of the qualified experts at the National Capital Poison Center by visiting poison.org. They offer free, confidential expert guidance on matters related to poison exposure. You can contact them via phone or by using their online tool.

Were you hoping that we’d suggest some simple rat poison antidotes that could miraculously cure you of rat poisoning? Well, we’ll have to disappoint you.

Medical experts will have to determine what the best course of action is, depending on the exact type of rat poison ingested as well as on the precise nature of the damage that has been caused already.

There are things that you can do yourself, too, if directed to do so by a poison control specialist or doctor. You can take Vitamin K to counteract the effects of the blood thinner in the rat poison. Activated charcoal and ipecac syrup are additional over-the-counter remedies. If you do take any of these, it should only serve as a containing measure, though, while you’re trying to get to a medical professional – or while you’re waiting for them to get to you.

Rat Poisoning Prevention

This is the area where people should focus most of their efforts. You should try to make sure that you’re not one of the thousands of people who ingest rat poison annually.

There are three typical ways in which adults, kids, and pets ingest rat poison.

  • It has spilled in your food. This happens when people keep their food and their rat poison in the same or neighboring cabinets. The easiest way to make sure that this doesn’t happen is to simply keep the rat poison far from the kitchen. Make sure to also keep it away from any food ingredients, including pet food.
  • The rat poison you’ve laid out is found and ingested. This is a very common problem. Regardless of how hard you try to hide the rat poison from your child or your dog, they will often find a way to get to it. Kids, in particular, can be very ingenious when it comes to getting things that have caught their eyes. To avoid this, it’s best to only use rat poison in places that your kids and pets have zero access to. (Try to keep it away from innocent, non-pest wildlife as well.) To keep everyone safe, use a rat bait station to put out rat poison.
  • The poison is consumed directly from the container. This is also something that kids and pets often do. They might open the cabinet where you keep the rat poison and feel curious. To avoid this, make sure that the place you store your rat poison is away from the kitchen, away from any food supplies, and also locked and child-proofed.

Of course, you could simply rat-proof your house or opt for another rat-combating tool such as non-poisonous rat traps.

30 Comments

JOSEPHINE

I have mixed rat poison in the food and I ate on 2 days before for some personal reasons but nothing happened to me . Do I need to consult the doctor or not required.

    Karen

    You should absolutely, most definitely consult your doctor, even if two days have passed since you consumed the rat poison.

    Gayathri

    Mam my friend had rat poison 3 days back now she feels some fever or fatiguability at night time what should I do?? Need to go consultants ..

    InsectCop

    Your friend should see a doctor immediately. Rat poison is no joke and can have lethal consequences if consumed. Good luck!

Sathya

Mam my friend drank rat poison.her liver was failure now. Wheather she can be cured???…doctor said that they goes to operate the liver..but it will works mam??

    Insectcop

    You will have to ask the doctor that. Sending thoughts and prayers to you and your friend.

Patty

My ex family put rat poison in my son’s food. They’ve been popping blood for two days & not feeling well. What do you think will happen next? I have no transportation to the doctor & we live way out in the sticks. What should I expect or prepare for?

    Insectcop

    You should get medical help immediately! Ingesting a rat poison (as well as the symptoms described) is a serious matter, which should be treated as a medical emergency! I hope at this point you have already called 911 or sought some professional help, cause in this situation the worst-case scenario would be death. Good luck!

Lily

I took mdma 3 weeks ago and there might be a chance it was laced with rat poison. I have had heart burn and been short of breath for a week now, is it possible for rat poison to effect you 3 weeks later?

    InsectCop

    Depending on things like your body mass, the amount of rat poison you’ve ingested, what type of rat poison it was and other factors symptoms can appear even several days after ingestion. But if you have even the slightest suspicion that you might have ingested rat poison and are exhibiting symptoms because of it contact your doctor as soon as you can. They will be able to give you advice on what to do.

    WATERS JEFFREY

    Those symptoms may also represent a heart attack or serious heart problems.

Person

What the hell are you supposed to do if your dr wont be bothered to help you or take you seriously??? My boyfriend had someone put rat poison in sonething he ate or drank he doesnt know but he knows it was rat poison… He called the ambulance and when he dkdnt know what it was they said they couldnt do anything for him, he went to the hospotol a few hours later and they just treated him like a drug addict and tested his blood and sent him home, said he “just needed sleep” and two days later (last night) he went again because he started feeling disoriented and hot and all the symltoms again, and they wouldnt help him again kr listen to him…. They just treated him like he was crazy… Wtf is he supposed to do? Im really worried and dont know how to help him….

    InsectCop

    Is there any chance you could go to another hospital or see other doctors? We can’t really give you advice on a subject that’s such a serious medical matter. If there is no such option, try contacting Poison Control for advice. But I have to admit, the attitude towards your boyfriend does sound absurd and rather unprofessional.

Suhail azahat

My friend ate the rat poison two months before now he has pimpples on face increase day by day with ichingn pain in pimpples so what should we do.

    InsectCop

    Your friend should go see a doctor.

Daisy Lee Brooks

Help!! I’m a newly 11 year old girl who ate a little bit a chicken that the mice got into and didn’t realize and there’s poison nearby so I might have eaten rat poison and I’m scared I’ve been crying so I don’t know for the symptoms and it was just now, but I’m scared to wait and at the same time I don’t want to tell my mom and it turn out that I didn’t. I’m really scared and don’t know what to do!!!

    InsectCop

    You should tell your parents immediately and consult a doctor, if possible. Especially, if you’re starting to feel any changes in your overall health. Hopefully, you’ll be alright, however, if you did happen to ingest some poison, the consequences might be severe.

    If it turns out you didn’t ingest any, your mom shouldn’t be mad at you. It’s better to take action and then find out you hadn’t ingested the poison than to take ignore the situation just to figure out later on that you had eaten the poison. Because at that point it might already be too late.

Sharath

Hi, My 10 months old son accidentally ate a small bit of rat poison yesterday at 5 pm, we took him to 4-5 local hospitals but they refused to treat so arround 9 pm we we admitted him in a baby hospital at Egmore in Chennai. They did initial stomach wash took for scan and did some blood test yet to get results. Now my baby condition is normal he is active eating and sleeping well but I’m extremely worried scared of after knowing it’s dangerous side effects. Please suggest me should I admit him at any other best hospitals. Will my son be fine is there any experts advice I should take if any sugget me thanks alot in advance thank god your site at right time.

Regards,
Sharath

    InsectCop

    Hello! It’s frustrating to hear that hospitals refused to treat a baby after ingesting such a highly dangerous substance. But it’s good to know you found help either way. We aren’t medical experts, therefore we can’t tell whether or not any other treatment would be necessary. Generally, if the doctors checked the baby, as well as did blood tests, they should be trusted. Especially, if the baby is feeling fine. Though, if anything changes in the way your baby acts, perhaps it would be a good idea to see the doctor again, if you’re feeling uneasy. When it comes to health, it’s always better to be safe than sorry! Good luck!

Sharath

Hi, thanks for the response we admitted baby for 6 days and from beginning baby is normal ( eating playing sleeping well) and they did alternate days blood test (PT, INR ) all test results are normal. we got discharged today and only last blood test we opted to take outside in some good private hospitals may by tomorrow or by Thursday we might take baby for final blood test. Until now there is no change in baby activities. It’s been 6 days after poison ingestion.

Orrondai Howze

Yes I believe I’ve been exposed to rat/mice poisoning. My symptoms include waking up being very dizzy. Pure bloody stool for over a week even with no feces in toilet. Constant nausea. Vomiting. My body is very tired always. One bad nose bleed. Access to mice pellets in home.

    InsectCop

    You need to see a doctor as soon as possible if you haven’t yet!

    Sabrina

    Ate a pie. Got the same back of the throat taste that you get with breathing in too much fly spray. I spat it out but not sure how diluted it was throughout the pie (I ate 3/4 bofore tasting). I can still taste it. Could it be possible that the fish shop I bought it from accidentally spilt some into the pie? What should I do?

    InsectCop

    Technically it’s possible, though, I’m not sure what makes you think it’s rat poison specifically (as it might as well be anything else happening). Still, with such severe symptoms, you should definitely see a doctor ASAP. Also, tell the doctor about your suspicion, just in case.

Henry Eford

Are there any other long term affect after being fed rat poison? I think I am a victim to the poison. It was Years ago and I believe that I was mentally and physically disabled by the situation and I need some help with the answer to that question;

    InsectCop

    You should consult a medical professional.

DPMP

A friend of mine took rat poison a week ago. Then took different ones last weekend.
She claims she was vommiting and had diarrhoea all night that night. Its been 2 days since that and she hasn’t eaten anything, she has no appetite and claims is not hungry. She does she sahe has a headache and stomache though.
Is there any chance the diarrhoea and puking washed the poison away? Or is she at risk still?

    InsectCop

    We suggest seeing a doctor as soon as possible, as the risk of her being poisoned is still very likely.

Jessica theiss

I think I have been exposed to some kind of rat poisoning through the air ventilation I have been havibg a really hard time breathing I stay exhausted I sleep all day and then an hour later I am already tired and go back to sleep I wake up with this film on my mouth and I recently heard from my doctor that I am in liver failure I dont know what to do can u help dignose me and se if maybe that is what it is or if it is something else my ex boyfriebd I know has poisoned mw with something but every single hospital i got to looks at melike I an crazy and does not take me seriously I seem to get sleepy alot more than usual and my heart hurts and I have alot.of abdomal pain more than usual right in. Thw gut area

    InsectCop

    We are not qualified to give you any medical advice or diagnosis. But we do suggest seeing another doctor since there isn’t really anything else you can do. Also, it sounds like you need to be diagnosed and treated ASAP. As for whether or not it’s rat poisoning, we’re can’t say for sure, but it most likely isn’t. Either way, good luck figuring it out and recovering!

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