Kill A Rodent - Is Lethal Pest Control Inhumane?


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With so many homeowners seeking humane pest control methods, killing an animal seems distasteful. Sometimes, though, it may become necessary to - and despite how it may initially seem, lethal methods are not necessarily inhumane. Capturing fuzzy little rodents and setting them free can obviously make us feel much better than simply killing them off. That's why live traps are so popular - no one wants to harm an animal. However, it's never as simple or straight-forward as it may seem.

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The Use of Lethal Traps

Some lethal traps, like mouse snap traps and the rodent zapper, kill very quickly without allowing the animal time to panic.

Compare this to generally-accepted humane live traps: live traps need to be used and set properly in order to successfully capture rodents, otherwise they could inadvertently injure or even kill them. Live traps also need to be checked very frequently - the stress of being trapped can cause rodents to die of hunger, thirst, or just plain stress.

A "humane" option isn't just about keeping an animal alive when it's trapped. Animals who are severely stressed, whether physically or mentally, may perish when set free.

Releasing Rodents Back Outside

Cold or inclement weather, inadequate shelter, food and water sources, can all cause immense suffering to animals and a slow death. Live trapping rats, mice, and other rodents in the winter when they cannot be expected to survive if released outdoors, begs the question, what to do with them?

Similarly, there has been some speculation that rodents released too far away from their home turf will die anyways (regardless of the season or weather), as they don't know where to find adequate protection from predators, or appropriate food and water.

Some people will argue that a quick death by a lethal trap is preferable to a slow, painful death by exposure, starvation, dehydration or predation.

Practical Considerations About the Use of Lethal Traps

Aside from the question of whether lethal traps are humane, there are also practical considerations. For example, if rodents are released within their home range (so that they know where to find shelter, food, and water) - will they just return to begin the infestation all over again?

What if there are no wilderness areas in which to release the rodents - they cannot morally be released off your property and onto a neighboring property where they may also cause problems.

What if an infestation is severe - can lethal traps be avoided if the situation continuously worsens and live traps or other methods aren't controlling the situation?

To kill a rodent or any other animal shouldn't be taken lightly. But sometimes lethal traps may be needed, and sometimes they are even a more humane alternative than the other options that are available. The single most humane way to control pests is to prevent them from becoming an issue in the first place. Homeowners should take preventive pest control measures to help stop rodents from entering their homes or becoming a problem in the yard.