Safer Pest Control Methods

Safer Ways to Control Rodents

On September 22, 2012, the El Cerrito City Council passed a Resolution (Resolution 2012-72) urging local businesses, contractors, City staff, and residents to stop stocking, selling, or using certain rat poison products in the City.

El Cerrito residents are urged to stop using rat and mouse poisons that would be prohibited under the US EPA's Risk Mitigation Decisions for Ten Rodenticides. These include any products with second generation anticoagulants (brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone, and difenacoum). For details, read the U.S. EPA’s “Risk Mitigation Decision for Ten Rodenticides” (May 28, 2008).

The resolution was recommended to the Council by the City's Environmental Quality Committee among other groups and individuals, based on their concern about the risks for children, pets, and predator birds.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers receives 12,000–15,000 reports each year of children under the age of six ingesting rat poison products. Pets also eat the poison. Rodenticides are often set in easily accessible locations and mistaken for food. In addition, predator birds and animals often eat rats who have been poisoned and then become poisoned themselves (secondary exposure). The death of predator wildlife, like raptors, then leads to more rodent population growth.

Instead of using products with second generation anticoagulants, residents are urged to use less-toxic rodent control products and methods and to only buy products that are packaged as bait stations. Businesses in El Cerrito are further urged to stop selling the more dangerous products.

To learn more about safer ways to control rats and mice around your home, please visit the EPA website:

To learn more about a regional effort to reduce use of harmful rodenticides, visit

The Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District can provide brochures (in english and spanish), and provide advice on rodent identification, prevention and control
to residents and businesses. Call them at (925) 771-6172 or visit

Note: District employees do not bait or set traps on private property, but provide valuable, detailed information, guidance and recommendations.

Deterring Rodents

You can deter rodents by removing food sources from your outdoor environment
  • If you feed domestic animals outdoors, clean up and remove any uneaten food immediately after feeding.
  • Do not feed wild animals such as squirrels, turkeys or deer.
  • If you feed birds secure the bird food in a hanging feeder.
  • Do not put meat or cheese in your home compost pile.
  • Keep grass seed, rice and other grains in airtight containers.
  • Exclude rodents from buildings by sealing holes, cracks and open pipes.
These common sense approaches are part of an Integrated Pest Management strategy that proves the old adage: ”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Integrated Pest Management for a healthy garden

Integrated Pest Management (or "IPM") uses common sense techniques to control pests effectively, minimizing the need to use pesticides that can be toxic to people, pets and the environment.

The Contra Costa Clean Water Program offers a series of fact sheets aimed at educating residents about less-toxic pest
management for common problems in residential gardens, such as:
  • Ants
  • Aphids
  • Cockroaches
  • Fleas
  • Mealybugs
  • Mosquitoes
  • Mites
  • Snails and Slugs
  • Whiteflies
  • Yellowjackets
Learn about less-toxic pest management for your garden at

Good pest management focuses on preventing pest problems to begin with. This might mean keeping counters free of crumbs to avoid ants, pruning out aphid populations before they get out of control, using slow-release fertilizers or compost that allow grass and plants to absorb nutrients more efficiently, or attracting beneficial insects – such as ladybugs and green lacewings – that help keep garden pests (like aphids and mealybugs) under control. Many gardeners kill beneficial insects because they mistake them for pests. When you lose beneficial insects, you lose one of the best nontoxic defenses to a healthy garden!