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Oleander Poisoning

Other Names: Nerium Intoxication

Oleander poisoning occurs from eating the oleander plant (Nerium oleander), or its relative, yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana). Oleander is an attractive evergreen shrub that is commonly found in gardens and landscapes due to its beautiful (usually pink) showy flowers. It is native to tropical and subtropical regions, and grows in the wild in many parts of Texas, Arizona, Nevada and California. It is sold at nurseries during the spring and summer months throughout most of the Unites States as an ornamental.

Oleander is one of the leading causes of poisoning cases in animals. All parts of oleander are highly toxic--in both fresh or dried form. It contains several powerful cardiac glycosides that are found in the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds and fruit as well as sap, plant nectar and even water in which oleander leaves have been floating.

In an intoxication study, when just a couple of dried oleander leaves were given to healthy male chickens, clinical signs of poisoning begin within one hour after ingesting the leaves. All of the birds developed heart arrhythmias and died.

Clinical Signs

Hyperemia of combs and wattles
Sudden death


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Blood test
  • liquid chromatography mass spectrometry analysis of biological fluids

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Oleander poisoning in a Swans Oleander toxicity caused sudden death in three of four swans on one premises. The one male bird submitted had acute myocardial necrosis typical of oleander toxicity. Ref


Supportive care: Isolate 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.:



  • Do not keep oleander in the same area where birds are kept
  • Learn to identify Oleander and keep birds far away from it.



Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Keeping oleander in areas where birds have access



Also Consider