U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Ecotoxicology (2012) 21:832–846; DOI 10.1007/s10646-011-0844-5


In the United States, new regulatory restrictions have been placed on the use of some second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. This action may be offset by expanded use of first-generation compounds (e.g., diphacinone; DPN). Single-day acute oral exposure of adult Eastern screech-owls (Megascops asio) to DPN evoked overt signs of intoxication, coagulopathy, histopathological lesions (e.g., hemorrhage, hepatocellular vacuolation), and/ or lethality at doses as low as 130 mg/kg body weight, although there was no dose–response relation. However, this single-day exposure protocol does not mimic the multiple-day field exposures required to cause mortality in rodent pest species and non-target birds and mammals. In 7-day feeding trials, similar toxic effects were observed in owls fed diets containing 2.15, 9.55 or 22.6 ppm DPN, but at a small fraction (<5%) of the acute oral dose. In the dietary trial, the average lowest-observed-adverse-effectlevel for prolonged clotting time was 1.68 mg DPN/kg owl/week (0.24 mg/kg owl/day; 0.049 mg/owl/day) and the lowest lethal dose was 5.75 mg DPN/kg owl/week (0.82 mg/kg owl/day). In this feeding trial, DPN concentration in liver ranged from 0.473 to 2.21 µg/g wet weight, and was directly related to the daily and cumulative dose consumed by each owl. A probabilistic risk assessment indicated that daily exposure to as little as 3–5 g of liver from DPN-poisoned rodents for 7 days could result in prolonged clotting time in the endangered Hawaiian shorteared owl (Asio flammeus sandwichensis) and Hawaiian hawk (Buteo solitarius), and daily exposure to greater quantities (9–13 g of liver) could result in low-level mortality. These findings can assist natural resource managers in weighing the costs and benefits of anticoagulant rodenticide use in pest control and eradication programs.