Rat Poison

Rats and mice are around again in fairly large numbers going by the number of calls being received and comments made. There are many poisons available these days for getting rid of these unwanted pests but
the good old rat pellets with Warfarin are still often used. All poisons are toxic but this is probably one of the worst and this is the time of year when it is often placed in sheds and any other locations where mice and rats and deemed to be a problem. Sadly it is not only used for this purpose but also for deliberately poisoning other species including domestic animals.
The brushtail is one of the more common native species that arrives for care having been found on the ground either inside or outside unable or unwilling to move. Diagnosing ingesting poison can be difficult but there are a few tell-tale signs that can be looked for. Lethargy and pale gums as well as being white around the area around the vulva in a female brushy; the paleness in the genitals of a male may not be so obvious. The poison causes internal bleeding and this is why there is such paleness in the mentioned areas. If a lot of the bait has been ingested over time then you may hear gurgling in the chest which means blood in the lungs. If this is the case then there is nothing that can be done and the animal should be euthanised.
If a possum arrives with these symptoms and rat poison being ingested is suspected the possum needs treatment immediately, if treatment begins soon enough Vitamin K1 will, in most cases, stop the internal bleeding and the possum should be saved. Treatment must begin immediately. If possums suspected of having taken poison have arrived at your shelter before then it is a good idea to have Vitamin K1 on hand just in case. Injectable, tablets or syrup are available although injectable will probably be easier to administer. The tablets can be crushed and given in milk if the possum will lap, the syrup can be given in this manner also. Vitamin K is excreted so it can be given if you suspect poisoning. If you have caught it in time then some signs of improvement should be seen within very few hours [2-3] but continue to dose for at least 3 days. If giving Vitamin K1 the dose rate will be 0.5mg/per kilo of bodyweight. This is the same regardless of whether you use injectable, tablets or syrup.

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