Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do Rats and Mice Need Water With Their Bait?

This week I have received several queries from people asking whether it is necessary to place water out with rodent baits. They have been told, or have read, that poison baits make rats and mice thirsty and that they will gnaw pipes to get at water to drink; so that placing water with the bait means they are less likely to gnaw pipes.

This is one of those stories that has some truth and sounds plausible but but comes to the wrong conclusions.

Damage to cables from gnawing rats 
Almost all rodent baits contain an anti-coagulant toxin* such as the coumatetralyl used in NO Rats & Mice. Anti-coagulants do indeed have a slight tendency to make the rats and mice thirsty, but the rodents are likely to find water in their usual places if they are able.

Rodents do indeed often gnaw at pipework and cables causing considerable damage. But they do this because their incisor (front) teeth grow continually throughout their life and must be kept worn down and sharp by regular gnawing. This is why rats and mice gnaw things other than their food. Plastics, including plastic pipes and cable covering, seem to be of a consistency that they get 'pleasure' from gnawing.

Placing water alongside baits is unlikely to influence the likelihood of them gnawing pipes. Anti-coagulant poisons take several days to begin to take effect. So the rats and mice are likely to be some other place when they begin to feel ill and thirsty. In most cases they fall ill and die in their nest.

The delayed action of anti-coagulants is very important for their effectiveness and in making anti-coagulants a safe type of poison for use in homes.

If a poison makes a rat or mouse feel ill quickly, they will associate the illness with the bait and will avoid eating any more. If they have not yet consumed a lethal dose they can recover and will be 'bait shy' meaning baits will no longer be effective. With ant-coagulants the delayed onset of illness means they do not associate the illness with the bait and they have already taken several feeds of bait ensuring they have taken a lethal dose from which there is no recovery.

The slow onset of illness also has the advantage of giving plenty of time to administer the antidote to any non-target animal, such as a pet,  that accidentally takes bait. Vitamin K is a fast and effective antidote for anti-coagulant poisoning.

Another interesting fact about mice is that they can obtain all their water from their food and may live their lives without ever needing a drink.

In conclusion, there is no need to leave water out with rat and mouse bait. But it is important to control rats and mice promptly to reduce the risk of damage to pipes and cables caused by their gnawing habits.

*Kiwicare Natural NO Rats is a novel rodent bait that does not contain an anti-coagulant poison. It does not contain any poison! Instead it works by physical action. Rodents do not posses the enzymes in their gut necessary to break down the cellulose in the bait. Rodents cannot vomit and so the bait remains in the alimentary canal where it prevents feeding and causes dehydration and death by heart attack. The bait is safe for other animals.

Who is the king rat in Rome?
Julius Cheeser.


  1. This is some good advice, thanks for sharing it! Since I own a small store, I have been using mouse poison in the basement because they always like to show up for some reason. I have to find out where they are coming from, it's really become a hassle for me.

  2. I know this was posted more than 4 years ago, but I had a question on this as I am dealing with this right now. I had bait out for it and it looks like it ate some, but I can't find the mouse. It has been about 7 days now since the bait has been out and found the gnawed on bait 4 days ago so I assume it's dead somewhere. The thing is, can mice live if they drink water after they eat the bait? I have a dog so I always have water out for him. I haven't seen any traces of one since except I had a hole in my bread, but that could have been before the bait had been set out.

    1. Hello,
      Rodenticide baits are slow acting and will take affect some days after the rodent has eaten the bait. They might drink water but this will not prevent the rodenticide killing the rodent. You are unlikely to find the dead mouse or mice. They normally die in their nest which will be somewhere well hidden.
      Kind Regards



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