Veterinary advice should be sought from your local veterinarian before applying any treatment or vaccine. Not sure who to use? Look up veterinarians who specialize in poultry using our directory listing. Find me a Vet

Rodenticide (rat Poison) Toxicity

Brodifacoum Toxicity, Dicumarol Toxicity, Warfarin Toxicity

There are several types of commercial rodenticides, with anticoagulant, bromethalin, and cholecalciferol being the most commonly used. Each type of rodenticide has a different affect on the bird, and requires treatment unique to the type of rodenticide ingested. Because there are so many differences, if rodenticide toxicity is suspected, the trade name of the product, generic active ingredient, and concentration of the active ingredient are important to obtain. The EPA registration number can also be used to accurately identify a rodenticide. In most cases, the color and formulation (blocks versus place packs) do not provide accurate clues to the type of rodenticide.
  • Anticoagulants - Anticoagulants cause a severe loss of vitamin K levels in the bird's body. The severity depends on the amount of the rat poison ingested by the bird, and the toxicity of the individual product. Signs of poisoning don't happen right away. It will take generally 3 to 7 days for clinical signs to appear in chickens, post ingestion of the poison. Initial signs are related to internal bleeding so they are often vague, and may include weakness, lethargy, and decrease or loss in appetite. The chicken may also be found dead, without clinical signs developing.
  • Bromethalin - Bromethalin baits will be formulated as place packs and bars, like anticoagulants. Product brands include several including Trounce, Assault, and Vengeance. Clinical signs of toxicity are related to the nervous system and include muscle tremors, seizures, behavioral changes, ataxia, paresis, and depression. If recognized early enough (within 4 hours of suspected ingestion of the poison), giving activated charcoal may be beneficial. After 4 hours and once clinical signs have developed, treatment consists of therapy for the associated symptoms which develop and supportive. In mild cases, signs may resolve on their own over 2-4 days with good nursing and supportive care.
  • Cholecalciferol - Cholecalciferol is actually vitamin D3. Commercial brands include Quintox, Rampage, and Hyperkil. Poisoning severity depends on the dose and age and sex of the bird. It severe causes hypercalcemia. If recognized early enough (within 4 hours of ingestion), activated charcoal may be beneficial. After four hours, aggressive treatment for hypercalcemia is needed and supportive care.

Clinical Signs

Hemorrhaging (internal or external bleeding)
Pale colored comb and wattle
Weakness
Lethargy
Depression
Loss of appetite

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • CBC
  • Anticoag/Rodenticide screen test

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Activated charcoalMay be beneficial if administered within the four hours after suspected ingestion.
Vitamin K10.2-2.2mg/kg given IM or subcutaneously every 4 to 8 hours until stabilized.
Once stabilized, it is administered usually once daily for at least 2 weeks or longer, depending on the severity.
Blood transfusionIn severe cases

Prevention

  • Do not keep rodenticides anywhere near where chickens could possibly access them
  • Do no use rodenticides, use a different method of rodent control.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Leaving rodenticides in the vicinity of where chickens are kept and can easily access them.
  • Oral antibiotics increase the severity of some types of rat poison