Watch Out For Rat Bait – And What To Do If Your Animal Has Eaten Some


Rats are not native to Aotearoa and therefore the huge, adverse impact they have on our native wildlife classifies them as a pest. Rats can breed very quickly and populations can quickly become a problem. They eat a variety of vulnerable native species of plants, insects, lizards and birds. 

Across the country. rat control programmes are in place with the aim to eradicate the rat colonies. This means, both out and about, as well as on our own properties, it is not uncommon to come across rat poison. 

Keeping your animals away from rat bait is essential as it is highly dangerous to our pets.

Rat bait is a product that is strategically used in New Zealand to control our pest population to help our native wildlife. 

It comes in several forms and if it is accidentally ingested by your pet it can have a disastrous result. 

A rat - a pest in New Zealand that destroys our native wildlife
Rat Bait - Rat Posion. Small blue pellets NZ

The most common types of rat bait used in New Zealand are anti-coagulant based rodenticides, also known as warfarin.  These include baits which have active ingredients such as brodifacoum, difenacoum and bromadioline. 

They act by interfering with the body’s normal vitamin K cycle and therefore hinder the production of clotting factors. 

These clotting factors are needed to control bleeding. 

As a result, animals that ingest this poison bleed into their body, most commonly into their chest and abdomen. Clinical signs usually take 3-5 days to develop after ingestion and include lethargy, coughing, panting when resting a distended (swollen) abdomen, pale gums , vomiting and anorexia.  

If you have recently seen your animal eat rat bait or are highly suspicious that they may have eaten rat bait, then call your local GP vet or emergency centre immediately.  

If you are suspcious that your pet has eaten rat bait from home, please bring in the box, or the product name of what you think they might have eaten as this will help to guide treatment.

A vet can induce your pet to vomit and hopefully empty their stomach, thereby retrieving any eaten rat bait. This is a quick and painless procedure that could be lifesaving. 

A blood test 48 hours later can help confirm that there is no longer any remaining rat bait in your pets body.

If your pet presents with the previously mentioned clinical signs, then please seek immediate veterinary care. Treatment usually involves fluid therapy, blood transfusions and supplementing vitamin K. Generally, pets will be hospitalised for up to 72 hours or until they are stabilised before going home. They will continue on vitamin K therapy at home for 4-6 weeks depending on the type of rate bait eaten. A final blood test is done at the end of this period to ensure further treatment is no longer needed.  


Watch out for signs in public spaces that describe what has been used - watch out for rat bait

Prevention of rat bait toxicity is essential. Ensure any bait is locked away safely or high out of reach of your pet. Read department of conservation signs and online noticeboards before going on walks to make yourself aware of any toxins in the area so you can control your pets access appropriately. 

Most Public spaces and reserves are well signposted with baiting strategies, applications and locations.

Pay attention to these signs and take the appropriate action to keep your pets safe. That may mean an on leash walk.