Humane endpoints for rodenticide testing

Rodenticides are a category of pest control chemicals intended to kill rodents and they are tested on rodents to see if they are effective. The project aims to identify biological markers from blood, faeces and urine, which can predict whether a rodent will die before the onset of suffering rather than waiting for death to occur.

There is a lag-time, of 4-6 days, from ingestion of bait to death with all anticoagulant rodenticides. Behaviour of rats will be observed before and after the poison is given to them. Corticosteroid levels will be monitored as an indicator of stress and a range of vitamin K-dependent blood clotting proteins will be measured. Other techniques will be used to identify changes in the biochemistry of blood, faeces and urine. The results will then be used to identify which factors can be monitored, preferably through non-invasive procedures, to predict death and survival of rats after exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides.

Implications for the 3Rs
Being able to humanely kill the animals instead of waiting for death to occur will significantly refine a procedure of substantial severity so that the animals used experience less suffering.

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Project grant



Principal investigator

Dr Alan MacNicoll


Department for Environment
Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)

Grant reference number


Award date

Mar 2008 - Aug 2009

Grant amount