Exposure of non-target small mammals to anticoagulant rodenticide during chemical rodent control operations

Morten Elmeros*, Rossana Bossi, Thomas Kjær Christensen, Lene Jung Kjær, Pia Lassen, Christopher John Topping

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The extensive use of anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) results in widespread unintentional exposure of non-target rodents and secondary poisoning of predators despite regulatory measures to manage and reduce exposure risk. To elucidate on the potential vectoring of ARs into surrounding habitats by non-target small mammals, we determined bromadiolone prevalence and concentrations in rodents and shrews near bait boxes during an experimental application of the poison for 2 weeks. Overall, bromadiolone was detected in 12.6% of all small rodents and insectivores. Less than 20 m from bait boxes, 48.6% of small mammals had detectable levels of bromadiolone. The prevalence of poisoned small mammals decreased with distance to bait boxes, but bromadiolone concentration in the rodenticide positive individuals did not. Poisoned small mammals were trapped up to 89 m from bait boxes. Bromadiolone concentrations in yellow-necked mice (Apodemus flavicollis) were higher than concentrations in bank vole (Myodes glareolus), field vole (Microtus agrestis), harvest mouse (Micromys minutus), and common shrew (Sorex araneus). Our field trials documents that chemical rodent control results in widespread exposure of non-target small mammals and that AR poisoned small mammals disperse away from bating sites to become available to predators and scavengers in large areas of the landscape. The results suggest that the unintentional secondary exposure of predators and scavengers is an unavoidable consequence of chemical rodent control outside buildings and infrastructures.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)6133-6140
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Anticoagulant rodenticides
    • Insectivores
    • Non-target exposure
    • Rodent control
    • Rodent dispersal
    • Secondary poisoning

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