Rat poison: time to think again

Published in Poisons Beware

Just as the use of insecticides does not solve a mosquito problem, vermin are not controlled by repeated use of poisons.

Rat poison lodged in letter-box. Rat poison lodged in letter-box. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

For many years, rat poison has been delivered to households all over the island in totally inadequate cellophane bags. To make matters worse, the instructions are inside, so the poison has to be handled if you want to read them. Foreign residents who do not know Croatian are at a disadvantage. One thought that the white tablet which comes with the red warfarin mixture was the antidote. Luckily, they had no occasion to try it, as the tablet is a separate poison meant for septic tanks, and has no antidote. The antidote to the warfarin is vitamin K. Warnings that the poison is about to be delivered are patchy and haphazard. While the official Stari Grad website always carries advance notice, that has not been the case elsewhere. In Pitve it was usually a small notice taped to the rubbish bin a day or two beforehand. However, during 2016 there has been an improvement in Jelsa, with warnings being given on the Council's website as well as on the Town Hall notice board.

Warning of the impending poison delivery on the rubbish bin. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

By law, vitamins have to be packaged securely, but it seems that rat poison does not. EU membership has not changed this irresponsible and dangerous custom. The bags are left apparently randomly around the villages. I have found them variously on a window sill, dangling from my post-box, even on top of my car! Delivery is clearly irresponsible. Are the poisons used in a more responsible manner? All too often, they are simply placed in heaps around a property, even where they may be a hazard to pets or young children. The safest way to put down such poisons - if you feel you must - is to use a rigid tube with access holes at either end large enough for mice or rats, but too small for other animals.

Packaged rat poison as delivered to local households. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

While vermin within buildings present a problem and possible health hazard, the same is not true of mice and rats in the wild, which have their place, not least in the natural food chain. For an insight into their lifestyles, see the video below, or click here.

Given regular doses of poison, rats become resistant, so poison is not the solution. On the other hand, although the poison is not supposed to attract other animals, it does, and cats and dogs have died through eating it. The more's the pity, as cats keep rats, mice and even snakes under control. For any major rat infestation, the best methods for avoiding the problem of resistance are to let tenacious dogs like Jack Russell terriers hunt them, or to use traps.

Rat poison delivered to a car roof. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The local councils must spend quite a significant sum of money on distributing these poisons. Looking at the 2015 financial report from Jelsa Council, I was unable to identify exactly how much was spent on the campaigns against vermin and insects, as these items were not identified individually. Is this money being spent wisely? I think not.

In the United Kingdom, poisons against vermin are available, but are not generally distributed by local councils. They were (and maybe still are) distributed on request. Some sixty years ago, when we lived not far from London, my brother, sister and I came home from school to find an unmarked jam jar on the kitchen table. Ever adventurous, my sister delved in. “Cheesy“, she purred, and continued to satisfy her hunger. There was no fridge full of food in those days, indeed no fridge, and the larder was empty. However, Brother and I were more cautious, and refused her kind offer to share. Our mother's horror when she came home from work sometime later and asked where the rat poison was can be imagined. Sister spent the night in hospital, where diligent stomach pumping saved her life. I think that was the last time the local council left unmarked rat poison in anyone's home in an innocent-looking, insecure jam jar.

On Hvar in recent years I have managed to stop the deliveries by putting up notices round my property saying 'Otrov ne hvala' ('Poison, no thanks'), a tactic I recommend to anyone who does not want to be burdened with handling or storing hazardous substances.

My warning notice: No poisons!

Uncontrolled poison distribution is obviously hazardous. Coupled with the fact that poison is not an efficient method of controlling pests, the current policy needs to be reviewed, and practices need to be substantially improved - as a matter of extreme urgency.

© Vivian Grisogono 2016

Related items

Media

You are here: Home poisons be aware Rat poison: time to think again

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Electric vehicles’ share of new UK registrations rises to 2%, still falling far short of Norway’s 48%

    Sales of electric cars in the UK have risen 11% on last year, putting the country in the premier league of those ditching petrol and diesel engines, though it is still miles behind Norway and China.

    An analysis of the latest global sales of electric vehicles found that nearly half the vehicles registered in Norway in the first three months of 2018 were electric (48%), compared to just over a third (35%) during the same period in 2017. The vehicles are run almost exclusively off the nation’s hydropower resource, underlining Norway’s claim as the world leader.

    Continue reading...

  • Supermarket chain’s new range includes spicy chilli buffalo worms and smoked crickets

    Despite being a country that guards its culinary traditions more jealously than most - the recipe for the perfect tortilla proves enduringly divisive, and woe betide the anglosajón celebrity chef who dares pollute a paella with chorizo - Spain could be set to swell the ranks of the two billion people on the planet who regularly eat insects.

    Or so the supermarket giant Carrefour is hoping.

    Continue reading...

  • The Drastic on Plastic initiative will target single-use plastics, including drinks and toiletry bottles, straws, food trays, cable ties and glitter

    More than 60 independent British music festivals have committed to ban single-use plastic from their sites by 2021. The Drastic on Plastic initiative, led by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), will lead to the removal of plastic drinks bottles, plastic straws, glitter, plastic food trays, cable ties and toiletry bottles from festival sites.

    All 61 of AIF’s members have signed up to the pledge, including End of the Road, Bestival, Boardmasters and Kendal Calling. As an initial measure, participants will also support the Final Straw initiative to ban vendors from supplying plastic straws at their sites this year.

    Continue reading...

  • Report chronicles ‘mass mortality’, the extent and severity of which has shocked scientists
    Sign up to receive the top stories every morning

    Scientists have chronicled the “mass mortality” of corals on the Great Barrier Reef, in a new report that says 30% of the reef’s corals died in a catastrophic nine-month marine heatwave.

    The study, published in Nature and led by Prof Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, examined the link between the level of heat exposure, subsequent coral bleaching and ultimately coral death.

    Continue reading...

  • The designer’s ethical stance made her a style outsider – but now the industry is finally catching up. Ahead of a new V&A show, she talks about reclaiming her name, the joy of nature and the trouble with fast fashion

    Stella McCartney is a designer, a businesswoman and an environmental activist, but of the three, she says, fashion will always come first. “It has to, you see. Because the only way for me to start the conversation I want to start is by making a product that you want to buy and that you are going to spend your hard-earned money on. If the product is rubbish, then there is no conversation to be had. If I don’t have a successful business, then I’m an environmentalist who happens to be Paul McCartney’s daughter, and that is a conversation which lasts about three seconds. No one is going to come back for more of that chat.”

    Early years

    Continue reading...

  • California base faces claims of unreported injuries as it struggles to roll out Model 3

    Tesla is facing an investigation by Californian safety regulators into reports of serious injuries at its factory in Fremont, California, where it is struggling to scale up production of its Model 3 mass-market electric car.

    The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration said on Wednesday it had begun an inspection on Tuesday, a day after the news website Reveal alleged that Tesla failed to disclose legally mandated reports on serious worker injuries, making its safety record appear better than it was.

    Continue reading...

  • Research shows people with healthy diets rich in fruit and vegetables are the most wasteful and calls for better education for consumers

    Americans waste about a pound of food per person each day, with people who have healthier diets rich in fruit and vegetables the most wasteful, research has found.

    Continue reading...

  • Latest ambush worst attack to date at home to world’s largest population of mountain gorillas

    Five rangers and a driver have been killed in an ambush in Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

    A sixth ranger was injured in the attack on Monday that took place in the central section of the vast reserve, known globally for its population of rare mountain gorillas.

    Continue reading...

  • As the price of pods has soared so has violence – and forest defenders are increasingly risking their lives to protect precious wildlife habitat from being felled for profit

    The vanilla thieves of Anjahana were so confident of their power to intimidate farmers they provided advance warning of raids. “We are coming tonight,” they would write in a note pushed under doors in this remote coastal village in Madagascar. “Prepare what we want.”

    But they either undervalued their target commodity or overestimated the meekness of their victims. After one assault too many at the turn of the year, a crowd rounded up five alleged gangsters, dragged them into the village square and then set about the bloody task of mob justice.

    Continue reading...

  • This year, in collaboration with Global Witness, the Guardian aims to record the deaths of all people killed while protecting land or natural resources. At the current rate, about four defenders will die this week somewhere on the planet

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds