Rat Bait – Bromethalin ingestions (Hot shot, Sudden Death, Mouse Killer, Vengeance, Assault, Trounce)

There are many rat bait poisons available and while ones that contain bromethalin ( Hot Shot, Sudden Death, Mouse Killer, Vengeance, Assault, Trounce) are not the most common types they are one of the most dangerous because they can be very difficult to treat depending on how quickly ingestion is noticed and how severe the signs are.

How it works:

Bromethalin works on the central nervous system by causing swelling and loss of function of nerve cells. This edema (fluid swelling) and increased pressure in the brain results in death.  The rat poison pellets are often colored blue or bright green, and the coloring can sometimes be seen in the feces.  You can not determine the type of rat bait based on the color of the pellets because the most common types of rat baits (Anticoagulant types)  can also be colored in this way.

Clinical Signs:

Signs of bromethalin ingestion can occur within hours of ingestion to days later and depends on the amount of toxin ingested.  Signs typically involve muscle tremors (shakes), hyperthermia (high body temperature, typically secondary to muscle tremors), seizures, and ataxia (Loss of the ability to coordinate muscular movement), vomiting, and lethargy (state of being drowsy or dull).  Once a pet develops clinical signs the treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

Laboratory confirmation of bromethalin ingestion is difficult as there are no quick and easy tests available.


Initial treatment involved emesis (making the pet vomit) and decontamination with multiple doses of  activated charcoal.   There is no antidote and the disease is very difficult to treat once signs develop.  Once signs have developed, supportive care may need to be continued for days or weeks depending on the severity of signs.   Permanent brain damage can occur due to the brain swelling.


The prognosis for bromethalin ingestion will depend on the amount ingested and how quickly treatment is started.   The more advanced the signs prior to treatment the more guarded/poor the prognosis.   However, with quick detection and treatment, before signs develop most pets do well.