Will Rat Poison Kill Chickens?

Poison is the most effective way of controlling rodents. However, you need to know that rat poison can harm chickens. In severe cases, rat poison may kill chickens depending on the amounts and type taken.

If chickens ingest strong rat poison, they will die from severe internal bleeding. The amount consumed will determine the physical symptoms. I.e., mild poisoning may weaken chickens with a significant loss of appetite. This happens after 1 to 2 days of ingestion because some poisons are weak while others are strong.

Most rat poisons contain zinc phosphide, which usually reacts with stomach acids to produce phosphine gas. The gas is toxic, and that is what kills rodents. The reaction process is the same in chickens. Therefore, all rat poisons are deadly to chickens.

Will Rat Poison Kill Chickens?
Will Rat Poison Kill Chickens?

What happens if chickens eat rat poison?

Chickens will die after 6-24 hours if they ingest concentrated rat poison orally. They tend to show mild symptoms like diarrhea if the poison is taken in small amounts. A sudden urge to take water may also be a physical effect of rat poison in chickens.

The phosphine intoxication symptoms in chickens that ingest rat poison are immediate yet nonspecific. After consuming rat poison, some chickens may breathe with open mouths due to internally damaged organs.

Chickens are likely to consume rat baits laced with poison. Here is how it can happen; rats that get into contact with the poison are likely to carry it around the chicken house. They may leave the poison in the feeding and drinking troughs, thus exposing the chickens to the toxins.

Therefore, look for signs and symptoms of chicken poisoning if you are getting rats out of a coop. This helps you in knowing the best course of action to take. While moderate exposure to deadly poisons is unlikely to have significant consequences, excessive doses can result in serious problems like internal bleeding and death.

Rat poison symptoms in chicken

Symptoms depend on dosages, absorption method, and duration of exposure to the toxin. If the poison is strong, chickens may show toxicity symptoms after a few hours. Generally, when a chicken consumes rat poison orally, it takes time for the symptoms to show (up to one week if a weak poison is taken regularly).

Here is a table indicating the symptoms of rat poison on chickens vs. the amount taken:

Effects in chickenAmount of rat poison Ingested                                                                                      
Lack of appetiteLow
bloody vomitHigh
stomach discomfortmedium
Incontinence and diarrheaHigh
 Nausea and  drowsinessmedium
loss of coordinationmedium
spasms and immobilityHigh
unconsciousness and death Very High
Chickens and rat poison

What to do if chickens eat rat poison?

Any signs listed in the table above should never be ignored when using rat poison around the coop. If a chicken has taken rat poison, use the following steps to help it:

  1. Remove it from the rest of the chicken (Isolation).
  2. Then ensure it is comfortable with no stress.
  3. Provide lots of drinking water since rat poison makes a chicken extra thirsty.
  4. Give it its favorite food and supplies to boost its energy until the symptoms are gone.
  5. Increase fresh air ventilation in the coop to keep the affected chicken from losing heat through fever.
  6. If the symptoms persist, seek the advice of an avian vet immediately.

Some of the most effective intervention strategies often include supportive and post-treatment care. Supportive care means they have a continuous supply of clean water and food.

Calling an avian vet after taking all the measures is also important. If chickens show signs of poisoning within four hours after ingesting rat poison, the toxins have been consumed in large quantities. Seek professional advice in such cases.

Severe cases may need the administration of activated charcoal. The charcoal absorbs most toxins and prevents further absorption within the gastrointestinal tract.

The porous texture of activated charcoal carries negative electrical charges. This attracts positively charged elements like gases and poisons within the gastrointestinal tract. The molecules’ attraction helps trap toxins and other harmful substances in the stomach to the surface of the charcoal.

Can rat poison get into eggs?

If egg-laying chickens consume rat poison in large quantities, traces of those toxins can find their way into their eggs. Therefore, The outcome is an indication that there are rat poisons that can find their way into eggs. This happens in the mother hen before the eggs are laid.

Since the outer shell of an egg is porous, there is a possibility that the toxins can find their way into an egg if there is direct contact for a long time. Rat poison can get into chicken eggs because the airflow through the porous eggshell can intoxicate the egg if there is enough poison where the eggs are kept.

However, this is always minimal in most cases and cannot have a major effect if you eat those eggs. This is based on the fact the chicken’s body shall have also done its best to reduce the toxin’s ability to affect you.

Always note that any poison that can kill rats can also harm your chicken. It is, therefore, important to use this with care if necessary. The best time to poison rats in a chicken coop is when all the chickens are locked up to sleep. This should be removed in the morning before you let the flock out.

Safety measures

You probably wonder if any rat poison is safe in a chicken house. Well, be informed that no rat poison is safe around your chickens. Some poisons are claimed to be milder on poultry but lethal on rats. Well, poison is poison, and as earlier mentioned, nearly all poisons that kill rats can also kill your chickens.

It is vital to take precautions when dealing with rat poisons within the coop’s surroundings. However, if you have to use poison to kill rats, use bait stations where the rats get trapped within the areas where they consume poison. That way, there will be minimal contact with chickens. This is best done when the chickens are locked up to sleep at night.

If it is hot and your chickens need water at night, ensure the drinking containers are kept above the ground. Use elevated waterers so that any poisoned rat cannot get a chance to drink in order to cool down the poisoning effects.

One may apply other options during a rat infestation instead of poison. For instance, rats cannot pass air through farting or belching. The best way to kill them would be to mix baking soda with foods set as rat baits. Baking soda reacts with stomach acids and produces gasses. The gas build-up in the rats’ stomachs causes pressure, eventually killing them because they cannot pass wind, burp, or vomit.


Rat poison is the most preferred method by most individuals in controlling rat populations within their homes. It is essential to note the risks of using poison to kill rats. Animal activists also advocate against using rat poison. They cite the chemicals’ slow action, which subjects the animals to a painful death.

A dead rat from poisoning can also rot in a hidden area in a coop. The sudden presence of maggots in the chicken coop and a foul odor can help identify this.

Most rat poisons cause internal hemorrhaging, which is rather inhumane. As a chicken farmer, you should ask yourself whether you’d prefer to subject your flock to such conditions. Keep in mind that the action of rat poison on rats is the same in chickens. Any poison with the capacity to kill a rat will kill your birds.

Therefore, there is a need to be cautious when using rat poison to control an infestation in a coop. To achieve maximum safety, use other alternatives like traps so that the chickens are safe from any toxic elements found in rat poison.