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


Date of this Version



Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 30, No. 5, pp. 1213–1222, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/etc.490


The acute oral toxicity of the anticoagulant rodenticide diphacinone was found to be over 20 times greater in American kestrels (Falco sparverius; median lethal dose 96.8 mg/kg body weight) compared with Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). Modest evidence of internal bleeding was observed at necropsy, although histological examination of heart, liver, kidney, lung, intestine, and skeletal muscle revealed hemorrhage over a wide range of doses (35.1–675 mg/kg). Residue analysis suggests that the half-life of diphacinone in the liver of kestrels that survived was relatively short, with the majority of the dose cleared within 7 d of exposure. Several precise and sensitive clotting assays (prothrombin time, Russell’s viper venom time, thrombin clotting time) were adapted for use in this species, and oral administration of diphacinone at 50 mg/kg increased prothrombin time and Russell’s viper venom time at 48 and 96 h post-dose compared with controls. Prolongation of in vitro clotting time reflects impaired coagulation complex activity, and generally corresponded with the onset of overt signs of toxicity and lethality. In view of the toxicity and risk evaluation data derived from American kestrels, the involvement of diphacinone in some raptor mortality events, and the paucity of threshold effects data following short-term dietary exposure for birds of prey, additional feeding trials with captive raptors are warranted to characterize more fully the risk of secondary poisoning.

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