Common rabbit poisons
Rodent Poisons (‘rodenticides’)
This refers to anticoagulant rodenticides, e.g. warfarin, which prevent blood clotting. Not all rodenticides are anticoagulants. It’s important to check which has been ingested.
Rodenticides are used indoors and outside to control rodent infestations. Rabbits housed indoors and outdoors are at risk as they find bait attractive.
Poisoning may cause life-threatening bleeding; effects may not appear for several days. Bleeding may be internal so isn’t always visible. Severely poisoned rabbits are usually lethargic before severe signs occur.
Ivy (Hedera helix)
Ivy grows in woodlands and gardens and is a popular house/conservatory plant. All parts can be irritant if eaten, and are potentially poisonous. The leaves and berries are particularly toxic.
Common signs of ivy poisoning are lethargy/diarrhoea/loss of appetite. Severe poisoning can result in twitching/fitting/collapse/fatal paralysis. Severely poisoned rabbits seldom survive.
Rhubarb (Rheum spp)
Rhubarb is a common garden plant; the stalks are used in cooking. All parts of the plant can be irritant and are potentially poisonous when eaten raw by animals.
Common signs of rhubarb poisoning include irritation of the mouth/appetite loss/lethargy/diarrhoea/abdominal tenderness/severe dehydration. Death can occur but is rare.
Foxglove (Digitalis spp)
Foxgloves are found growing wild in woodlands/hedges, but are cultivated in gardens as they have attractive flowers.
All parts contain toxic substances called cardiac glycosides and any amount is potentially very poisonous.
Common signs of foxglove poisoning in rabbits include diarrhoea/dehydration/abdominal pain/weakness/irregular heart rhythm. In severe poisonings tremors/fits are expected, but such cases are rare.
Glyphosate herbicide products
Glyphosate is found in many herbicides. Rabbits may become exposed to herbicides if they access weeds/plants that have been recently sprayed/treated. Other ingredients in these products may also be poisonous.
Poisoned rabbits often become lethargic/weak and may lose their appetite. Some develop obvious abdominal pain/breathing difficulties. Rabbits with these signs may die, even with treatment.
Acknowledgement for this information is made to The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). Some helpful information is available on their website www.vpisuk.co.uk.