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Common pet rodent poisons

If you think your rodent’s been poisoned, contact your vet immediately. For more information: Poisoning in pet rodents.


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.


These products are used to control infestations of rats and mice, therefore as the target animals rodents are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects.


Poisoning may cause life-threatening bleeding; effects may not appear for several days. Bleeding may be internal so isn’t always visible. Signs to watch for include loss of appetite, weakness and breathing difficulties.


Chocolate - Never give chocolate to your pet

Chocolate contains a powerful stimulant called theobromine (similar to caffeine) which is poisonous to rodents. Dark chocolate and cocoa contain high levels of theobromine.


Rodents may become unsteady on their legs, have rapid breathing, tremors or convulsions.


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.


In rodents ivy poisoning may cause hunching (due to abdominal tenderness), diarrhoea, twitching and a low body temperature.


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.


Signs of poisoning include weakness, collapse, tremors or twitching and a fast or slow heart rate. Severe poisoning can result in death.


Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree with star-shaped flowers. Oleander contains toxic substances called cardiac glycosides which are present in both fresh and dried plant material. All parts of the plant are toxic and even a small amount could result in life-threatening poisoning.


Rodents may show signs of twitching or convulsions, collapse, have a bluish discolouration of the skin and have irregular heart beats.


 

Veterinary poisons information service logo

Acknowledgement for this information is made to The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). Some helpful information is available on their website.