Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) are a type of poison that is commonly used for rodent control by homeowners, pest control companies, and the agricultural industry. These products affect blood clotting. If a sufficient amount of AR is ingested, the animal will die from excessive bleeding. Unfortunately, ARs aren’t specific to rodents, and they can result in bleeding and/or death in any animal that ingests the product. In the case of raptors and other predators, this becomes problematic because the animal’s blood clotting ability will be affected if they consume a rodent that has ingested an AR.
AR poisoning can be difficult to diagnose if the bird is not overtly bleeding, because there are no reliable blood tests to evaluate clotting in birds. Birds have different clotting factors than mammals, so we can’t use the same tests we would use in cats and dogs. An early diagnosis is critical when treating these animals to ensure they receive the appropriate care.
What TRC is doing
At The Raptor Center we are evaluating a specialized blood clotting test for the use in raptors. We have developed clotting reference ranges in bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and great horned owls. This will allow us to better understand if a raptor is suffering from anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning and act more swiftly to treat them.