“R-r-rats! Rats! Rats! Rough on Rats, Hang your dogs and drown your cats. We give a plan for every man to clear his house with Rough on Rats”
Lol, this is the chorus of a promotional song/jingle written in 1882 for the product known as “Rough on Rats.”
Rat Poison in 1872
“Rough on Rats” was a poison (arsenic) that was developed and marketed by Ephraim Wells of New Jersey in 1872. This poison kills all sorts of vermin such as rats, mice, cockroaches, bed bugs and flies. His wife jokingly called the poison “Rough on Rats” and the name stuck.
During the 1800s, the US had no national poison control laws and their state regulations were often weak and inconsistent. Despite the poison being largely white arsenic with some fillers, Mr Wells was able to elude state laws by marketing his arsenic under its trade name. Even though the sale of poisons to minors was outlawed or required registration when sold to adults. Moreover, nowhere in its ads or packaging were there health warnings to humans.
Mr Wells continued selling “Rough on Rats” and his other products full time through mail order sales. Subsequently, he spent an enormous amount on advertising in the United States and other English speaking countries. It paid off. Over the next twelve years his profits exceeded US$2 million, equivalent to US$50 million today. Incredibly, the individual sales of items cost between ten and twenty-five cents!
Fast forward to 2020 in Canada; all pesticides are regulated by Health Canada. The manufacturers of the insecticides and rodenticides we use provide us with both a label and a safety data sheet. This information is strictly followed by our staff and technicians when handling pesticides.
Finally, if you want to get rid of a pest infestation, it is always best practice to hire a professional pest control company for the job.