2020 August: Geraldton (Western Australia). Pesticide: Ratsak/Brodifacoum

Native owls, lizards dying after eating mice and rats poisoned with Ratsak



A Western Australian wildlife carer is urging people to stop using a well-known brand of rodenticide because it is killing native owls and lizards who eat poisoned mice and rats.

Michelle Jones of GG Wildlife Rescue in Geraldton takes in sick and injured native animals to recover and then release back to the wild.

In the past month, she has seen five native owl species that were poisoned by Ratsak and only one survived.

“The ones that come in are the lucky ones,” she said.

The one that survived is still in care and when it has returned to a healthy weight it will be released in the same location it was found.

Alternatives to poison

Ms Jones said at this time of the year it can be common to see more vermin, meaning an increase in the use of poisonings.

Not only can rodenticides be fatal to native owls, but also to native lizard species.

“I don’t think they realise that the second degree poison is actually killing and making a lot of native species really sick,” she said.

Ms Jones said there are other options that can be used to get rid of mice and rats, like traps, or simply ensuring that you clean up anything that could be a food supply like bird seed.

Nature’s pest control

Some of the most common species Ms Jones has seen poisoned have been the southern boobook owl, the barn owl and black-shouldered kites.

Ms Jones said the best way to get rid of mice and rats is to look after their predators.

“What we are killing, if you’ve got them on your property … these guys are natural predators for rats and mice,” she said.

“You’re really doing something that inadvertently is going to affect the ecology and the ecosystem on your property for future generations.”