The hazard of operational-type applications of zinc phosphide (Zn3P2) on a species closely related to the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), was evaluated by feeding 16 Siberian ferrets (M. eversmanni) rats that had been killed by consumption of 2% zinc phosphide treated bait or by an oral dose of 40, 80, or 160 mg of Zn3P2. All ferrets accepted rats and a single emesis by each of 3 ferrets was the only evidence of acute intoxication. All ferrets learned to avoid eating gastrointestinal tracts of the rats. Subacute zinc phosphide toxicity in the ferrets was indicated by significant decreases (18-48%) in hemoglobin, increases of 35-91 % in serum iron, and elevated levels of serum globulin, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Hemoglobin/iron, urea nitrogen/creatinine, and albumin/globulin ratios also were altered by the treatments. This study demonstrated that Siberian ferrets, or other species with a sensitive emetic reflex, are afforded a degree of protection from acute zinc phosphide poisoning due to its emetic action. The importance of toxicity associated with possible respiratory, liver, and kidney damage indicated by altered blood chemistries is not known.
Additional publication details
Responses of Siberian ferrets to secondary zinc phosphide poisoning