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Common rabbit poisons

Some of the things you have around your house may be harmless to you, but they can be fatal to your rabbit. Make sure you know what substances you should keep away from your rabbits and what symptoms to look out for in case your rabbit has eaten something poisonous.

baby rabbit with toys inside © RSPCA

Never 'watch and wait'

If you think your rabbit has been poisoned, call your vet immediately.

Rodent Poisons ('rodenticides;)

This refers to anticoagulant rodenticides, e.g. warfarin, which prevent blood clotting. Not all rodenticides are anticoagulants, so it's important to check which your rabbit has eaten.

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, and the 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 appear.

Ivy

Ivy grows in woodlands and gardens and is a popular house and conservatory plant. All parts of this plant can be irritant if your rabbit eats them, and are potentially poisonous. The leaves and berries are particularly toxic.

Common signs of ivy poisoning are lethargy, diarrhoea and loss of appetite. Severe poisoning can result in twitching, fitting, collapse and fatal paralysis. Severely poisoned rabbits seldom survive.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a common garden plant and the stalks are used in cooking. All parts of the plant can be irritant and are potentially poisonous when animals eat them raw.

Common signs of rhubarb poisoning include irritation of the mouth, loss of appetite, lethargy, diarrhoea, abdominal tenderness and severe dehydration. Rhubarb poisoning can cause death, but this is rare.

Foxglove

Foxgloves are found growing wild in woodlands and hedges, but are also cultivated in gardens as they have attractive flowers. All parts of the foxglove 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 and irregular heart rhythm. In severe poisonings, the rabbit may experience tremors or fits, but such cases are rare.

Glyphosate herbicide products

Glyphosate is found in many herbicides. Rabbits may become exposed to herbicides if they have access to weeds or plants that have recently been sprayed. Other ingredients in these products may also be poisonous.

Poisoned rabbits often become lethargic and weak, and may lose their appetite. Some develop obvious abdominal pain and breathing difficulties. Rabbits with these signs may die, even with treatment.

Find more information on poisoning in rabbits.

Acknowledgement for this information is made to The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS).

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