Common pet rodent poisons

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

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

Rodent poisons ('rodenticides')

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

Rodenticides are used to control infestations of rats and mice. As the target animals, they're therefore particularly susceptible to their toxic effects.

Poisoning may cause life-threatening bleeding, and the 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.


Never give chocolate to your pet. It 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 grows in woodlands and gardens and is a popular house and 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.


Foxgloves are found growing wild in woodlands and hedges, but are also 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 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 with oleander poisoning may show signs of twitching or convulsions, collapse, have a bluish discolouration of the skin and have irregular heartbeats.

For more information, read our page on poisoning in pet rodents.

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

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