Literature Review on Residues of Anticoagulant Rodenticides in Non-Target Animals

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Anticoagulant rodenticides are the principal means of controlling pest rodents in the Nordic countries. Due to the intrinsic properties of second generation anticoagulants, i.e. extremely slow elimination from the body and high toxicity, they are prone to accumulate in the non-target species which consume poisoned rodents. Despite wide use there are no published studies on occurrence of residues of anticoagulant rodenticides in the non-target animals in the Nordic countries. This review of publicly available studies was aimed to find out which anticoagulant substances are found and in which species. The concentrations are reported as well as the proportion of exposed animals. We have further compiled a list of species that could potentially be exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides in the Nordic countries. The review shows that anticoagulant residues have been found everywhere they have been measured and secondary exposure to second generation anticoagulants is common among certain avian and mammalian predators. The results call for initiation of measurements of anticoagulant rodenticides also in the Nordic countries.




Use of anticoagulant rodentcides is the dominating way to control undesired rodent species. The effectiveness of anticoagulants is due to the delayed mode of action which prevents rodents to connect the poisoning symptoms to the bait they have fed a few days ago. This is important in the control of rats which are cautious and avoid food which makes them ill. Anticoagulant rodenticides were introduced for the control of harmful rodents, but unfortunately non-target species are affected too, either directly through consumption of poisoned baits or indirectly through consumption of contaminated prey animals (secondary poisoning) (Lambert et al. 2007). The indirect poisoning, i.e. secondary poisoning threatens birds and mammals that feed on living or dead rodents. Secondary poisoning is most commonly associated with the second generation anticoagulants (Berny et al. 1997; Shore et al. 2003; Stone et al. 2003; Fournier-Chambrillon et al. 2004).


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