Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for




Date of this Version

November 1976


I was to come here and talk to you today about the status of strychnine. Strychnine, of course, is one of the older poisons in use today; and, according to information from Fitzwater, Strychnine was known for its toxic properties as early as 1640. It was used to destroy crows, pests, stray dogs, etc. Strychnine was also used by natives of South America and Africa to dispose of neighboring tribes. This material is derived from an extract of the seeds from strychnos nux vomica and other species of the strychnos genus. The alkaloid form is only slightly soluble in boiling water, about 1 g in 3100 ml H2O, but relatively soluble in alcohol, chloroform, and benzene. One gram Strychnine will dissolve in 150 ml alcohol and 35 ml boiling alcohol. One gram will dissolve in 5 ml chloroform or 180 ml of benzene. It’s only slightly soluble in ether. The present uses in this country are limited to rodenticides and avicides. The predacide uses were cancelled by EPA in March of 1972, based on the misuse with thallium as a predacide and the resulting deaths of an endangered species--bald eagles. However, since that time, EPA has issued specific exemptions to various states for the use of strychnine for the purpose of suppressing rabies in skunks.