Upcoming changes to rodent control – what you need to know

20 September 2023

A rat trap

Photograph: KBImages / Alamy Stock Photo

Changes to the way rat infestations can be controlled in open areas away from buildings come in to force next year. Read our explainer on what you need to know.

In June, it was announced that authorisation for use of products containing difenacoum and/or bromadiolone in ‘outdoors (open areas)’ sites would be withdrawn, meaning that no SGAR-containing products will have authorisation for use in ‘open areas’.

SGAR-containing products will however, still have authorisation to be used ‘indoors’ and ‘outdoors (around buildings)’.

This change doesn’t come into force until 2024. The sale of products containing difenacoum and/or bromadiolone for use at ‘outdoors (open areas)’ sites will end on 4 July 2024. There will be a use-up period, and use in ‘open areas’ can continue up until 31 December 2024.

This means that as of 1 January 2025, using SGARs to treat rat infestations that are not associated with a building will be illegal. From that time SGARs can only be used against rodents that are either living inside buildings, live outside buildings and known to be moving into them or reasonably anticipated likely to do so.

Products containing cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) can still be used in ‘open areas’ and away from buildings. However, as it is assumed that the vast majority of rodent infestations on farms are associated with a building, effective treatment will still be available.

For more advice on professional rodenticide use, visit: Purchasing and using professional rodenticides.

Key dates:

  • 4 July 2024: The sale of products containing difenacoum and/or bromadiolone for use at ‘outdoors (open areas)’ sites ends.
  • 31 December 2024: Use period, and use in ‘open areas’ ends.
  • 1 January 2025: Using SGARs to treat rat infestations not associated with a building becomes illegal.

Protecting local wildlife

The change was instigated voluntarily by the CRRU (Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use) UK, with support to make the necessary amendments from UK biocides regulator, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).

One of CRRU’s main targets is to reduce SGAR residues in non-target wildlife. Rodenticide residues are found in around 80% of tested barn owls, a figure that has remained static for a number of years.

It is thought that baiting in open areas is one of the most likely routes by which non-target wildlife is exposed to SGAR residues. Ending the use of all SGARs in open areas aims to reduce the threat posed by chemical rodent control to non-target species. The change was a unanimous decision by all CRRU Directors to help meet rodenticide stewardship’s environmental targets.

Dr Alison Warrington, NFU Senior Plant Health Adviser said: “Rat infestations pose a serious concern to many farming businesses, and being able to apply controls in an effective manner whilst protecting the local wildlife is of great importance to our members.

“It is important that on-farm rodent control follows an integrated strategy, including both chemical baits and non-chemical methods such as trapping. When chemical controls are used, best practice must be followed for responsible and effective use, and to ensure that our industry continues to have access to these important tools in the future.”

Further support

To help all users of professional rodenticides understand the upcoming changes and what that will mean for rodent control, the CRRU is looking to put together a Q&A fact-sheet this autumn.

A survey has been created where you are able to enter any questions you may have about the changes to rodent control, to be answered in the Q&A fact-sheet later this year. 

Fill in the survey before the end of October to have your say.

The CRRU Code of Best Practice offers a range of effective methods for rodent management away from buildings, including elimination of harbourage, food and water, lethal non-anticoagulant baits and trapping, shooting and dogs.

Search the HSE biocides database to find out more about where certain products are authorised for use.

The NFU's expert team has produced a guide on purchasing and using rodenticide, visit: Purchasing and using professional rodenticides.

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