Do Rodent Smoke Bombs Work?

Rodent burrow under a tree

In the world of pest control, rodent smoke bombs evoke skepticism around their effectiveness. Do rodent smoke bombs actually work, or are they nothing but smoke and mirrors?

Well, it depends on what you want to achieve. Used correctly, smoke bombs can successfully remove rodents from their burrows without the use of traps or poisons. However, they won’t solve the root cause of your rodent problem. In other words, they’re a short term solution for a more serious pest problem. Read below to learn more.

What Are Rodent Smoke Bombs?

Rodent smoke bombs are a pest control device that releases a large amount of smoke upon activation. This smoke is made of toxic substances like sulfur oxides or potassium nitrate, which suffocate the rodents when they breathe in the smoke. Smoke bombs are designed for use on moles, gophers, rats, mice, groundhogs, and other burrowing rodents.

Rodent bombs are typically small cylinders that come in packs of multiples. They’re activated by lighting a fuse, which releases the smoke after a few seconds. Since this smoke is heavier than ambient air, the smoke spreads throughout the burrow. The rodents will either flee their den to escape the smoke or suffocate. Once they’re gone, you can fill in the den.

Smoke bombs are designed more to drive rodents out than to kill them, but rodent bombs can still be lethal. It is not a quick death, since the rodent is dying of suffocation, so these kinds of smoke bombs are rather inhumane. If you don’t wish for the rodents to suffer, you’re better off using an alternative, such as homemade rat or mouse traps. 

Rodent smoke bombs are available for purchase in many retail stores or online, but they are limited or outright illegal in some areas, so check your state laws and local regulations to ensure you’re allowed to use a rodent bomb before you buy one. Always follow the instructions on a rodent smoke bomb exactly and never use one in a way that they weren’t meant to be used. It’s also illegal in some areas to kill certain rodents, so always contact your local animal control before proceeding with extermination methods. 

Are Rodent Smoke Bombs Effective?

The purpose of a rodent smoke bomb is to either suffocate rodents or flush them out of their den. While their effectiveness can vary and they don’t work 100 percent of the time, the same can be said of any other rodent extermination method. When used correctly, smoke bombs can exterminate a rodent den with a reasonable degree of success. In short, yes, rodent smoke bombs work.

However, it’s important to note that rodent smoke bombs are not a long term solution. They’re only effective in the short term, when it comes to getting rid of a rodent nest. In the long term, their effectiveness is much more limited, partially because they don’t eliminate the conditions that attract rodents to your home in the first place.

While rodent bombs can help rid you of your existing rodent problem, they won’t do anything to prevent future ones or keep the rodents from coming back. If you don’t take any other measures, the survivors may return within as little as a few days, or new rodents can move in.

In order to prevent the rodents from coming back and prevent new ones in the future, you should fill back in the dens the rodents left. You also need to practice safe rodent control strategies for your home and your outdoor space to ensure you don’t have a recurring rodent problem.

How to Use a Rodent Smoke Bomb

If you choose to use a rodent smoke bomb, you need to know how to use it safely. The first thing you need to know is to never use a rodent bomb indoors. They are neither designed nor approved for indoor use. There are chemicals in the bombs’ smoke that you don’t want in your house, and the bombs can present a fire hazard if used inside.

Rodent bombs should only be used on outdoor rodent dens in your yard or garden. To use a rodent bomb safely, always read and follow the product’s labeled instructions. Here are some basic steps on how to use a rodent smoke bomb (but remember, always follow the product’s instructions): 

  • First, locate all entrances to the rodent’s burrow. 
  • If you’re aiming to suffocate the rodents as opposed to driving them out, fill in all holes except one. If you want the rodents to flee, fill in all but two holes to the rodent den. One hole will be the exit for the rodents, and the other will contain the smoke bomb. 
  • Place the bomb in one entrance to the rodent den. If you’re leaving an exit for the rodents to use, make sure you don’t place it at that exit.
  • Light the bomb and then cover the entrance you placed it at. If you use the bomb correctly, the rodents will either be suffocated by the smoke or flee their den via the exit.
  • If you want to capture the rodents, wait at the exit point you left open with a cage or other trap. If you choose to capture the rodents, be extremely cautious. Some rodents, like Norway rats, may spread disease to humans via bites or urine. 
  • If you decide not to capture the escaped rodents, you risk them returning to the yard or invading your home. 

Note: Remember, it may be illegal in your area to exterminate or relocate certain rodents. Always check local and state laws before proceeding with smoke bombs. 

How to Keep Rodents Away From Your Home

Food sealed in glass containers
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Of course, since rodent bombs can’t be used indoors, you need another strategy to deal with indoor pests. The best way to get rid of rats or mice in your home is to prevent them from moving in in the first place so that you don’t need to use things like rodent bombs or harmful rodenticides.

Here’s a short list of things you can do to keep rodents from moving into your house:

  • Clean Up: Keep your home clean and don’t leave any stray food or clutter, like old papers, around the house so that it doesn’t attract rodents.
  • Dry Up Moisture: Dry up any moisture sources, including stray puddles or leaking pipes, so that rodents can’t drink from them.
  • Seal Food: Keep any food in your pantry in sealed containers so that rodents aren’t attracted to it.
  • Use Repellents: You can use repellents with scents that rodents hate to keep the rats out of your home. Rodent repellent sprays work well, or you can use eucalyptus oil or peppermint oil, which repel mice and rats.
  • Fix Holes: Rodents get into your home through small holes or gaps in your exterior or foundation. Seal them with caulk and steel wool to keep out mice and rats.

How to Keep Rodents Away From Your Yard

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Keeping rodents away from your yard both ensures that they can’t move into your home as easily and that you won’t have to use a rodent bomb in the first place. Here are some tips to prevent rodents from making a home in your yard:

  • Don’t Leave Food Out: Any food left outdoors will attract rodents. If you eat outdoors, such as during a backyard barbecue, clean up any food thoroughly.
  • Lock Up Trash: Rodents, particularly rats and mice, will look through your trash for food. To deter them, lock your garbage cans and keep them clean.
  • Trim Shrubbery: Rodents like to make nests in your bushes and other greenery. To prevent this, trim your shrubs frequently to make them less attractive to rodents.
  • Keep Wood Off the Ground: Another common rodent nesting site is wood piles. Store wood off the ground to keep rodents like rats and squirrels from making nests in them.
  • Exclusion: Aboveground and underground fences can keep rodents from accessing your yard, garden, and plants. 

How to Dispose of or Release a Rodent

Man wearing N95 mask
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After you’ve used a rodent bomb or other method to take care of your rodent problem, your job isn’t quite done. You still have to either dispose of the dead animals or release the live ones you captured.

Regardless of which, you need to take steps to protect yourself from diseases that rats, mice, and other rodents carry. Wear protective gear, like a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy jeans, closed-toed shoes, and an N95 mask. Wash all of it once you’re done, and sanitize anything that the rodent touched.

To dispose of a dead rodent, put it in a plastic bag and throw it away in an outdoor garbage can. If it’s in a den, you’ll have to dig it up. Otherwise, you risk the smell attracting other rodents that will take over the den, or larger animals looking for a meal.

To release a live rodent, take it at least five miles away so that it doesn’t come back. If you can, release it with a small amount of food to be humane. Pick a wooded or meadow area, and find a location with a body of water between it and your home if possible.

Cost of a Professional Exterminator

Rodent exterminator
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Sometimes, rodent bombs and traps simply don’t cut it. A professional exterminator is sometimes necessary to take care of your rodent problem if it’s too large or severe. The cost of a professional rodent exterminator ranges from $245 to $430 on average, but can vary depending on many factors.

For example, the cost will be greater the larger your house and the more severe the infestation. It will also depend on the method the exterminator uses, as well as which kind of rodent is infesting your home.

You may also have additional costs outside of the exterminator. You should always get a home inspection done after a rodent infestation to assess the damage they may have done to your home’s structure or vital systems. Depending on where the rodents were, you may have to repair your home’s wiring or HVAC, or replace certain appliances.

It’s even possible for rodents to infest your personal vehicle. If the rodents were in your car, you need to take it to a mechanic to inspect it. The mechanic can repair any damage done and sanitize the vehicle so that it stays in tip-top condition. A mechanic can also help you protect your car’s wiring from rodents and other hazards so that all the vehicle’s systems run smoothly.

FAQ About Rodents

Can bug bombs kill a rodent?

Ordinary bug bombs will not kill a rat or mouse, at least not right away. The bombs aren’t designed for rodents, so they won’t have the same immediate effectiveness a bug bomb would on crickets, for example. However, the bombs are still toxic and the rodents will experience ill effects from the poison, and may succumb later on.

What’s the difference between a rodent bomb and a rodent fogger?

A rodent bomb and a rodent fogger are two names for the same thing. There are devices called foggers, which refer to any device that produces fog or smoke, but they aren’t the same thing as a rodent fogger. Rodent smoke bombs are also called “total release foggers,” meaning that they dispense their entire payload at once, which is why they’re also called rodent foggers.

Are rodent smoke bombs harmful to humans?

They can be, yes. The smoke a rodent smoke bomb emits can be harmful to humans and some pets if inhaled. Thankfully, the bombs are designed for something much smaller than you.

If you accidentally inhale some of the smoke from the bomb, it should be easy to remove yourself from the area, so as long as you don’t stay in the smoke for a prolonged period of time, you should be okay. Still, if you feel any ill effects, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Find Your Rodent Exterminator

Rodent smoke bombs should be handled with care. As long as they’re used properly, they can be a great tool for getting rid of your rodent problem.
If your rodent smoke bombs are failing you, contact rodent control experts near you. They can remove the pest infestation from your home and keep it away.

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Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger is a writer who's passionate about pest prevention. He enjoys writing about rodent control and teaching readers about how to keep their homes free of rats and mice.