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How poisonous is snail bait?

Some snail baits, esp older ones contain a severe toxin called metaldehyde. This poison acts on the brain, central nervous system, liver and respiratory system. Unlike rat bait poisonings, signs of toxicity occur immediately after eating the poison or can be delayed up to 3-4 hours.

Symptoms of poisoning include excess drooling, wobbliness, muscle tremors, convulsions and increased sensitivity to touch, sight and sounds. Coma and death follow within 4-24 hours after eating the bait if treatment is not given immediately.

Diagnosis is usually made by seeing the blue/green granules in the animals mouth or vomit, clinical signs and extremely high liver enzymes on our blood analyser.

Unlike rat bait poisoning, there is no antidote. Treatment is aimed at getting the poison out of the system as quickly as possible before permanent damage is done or death occurs. This is done by giving an anaesthetic and pumping out the gut contents and by enemas and i/v fluids/diuretics and liver protectants. Unlike rat bait toxin, once the animal recovers, there is usually no ongoing treatemtn unless the liver is severely damaged.

Animals can still die days after ingestion of poison from liver failure.