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Poisoning in ostriches following ingestion of toxic plants - field observations


Data from post-mortem and field studies were obtained that discussed poisoning in ostriches following ingestion of toxic plants. From the notes, all plants studied caused death in ostriches and there was systemic organ damage. Poisoning from Sarcostemma viminale (Melktou) resulted in beak patting, muscular tremors and head flopping, followed by collapse and violent kicking before death. Ingestion of Combretum oatesii (Red wings) seeds from plants in free grazing pastures resulted in vomiting, restlessness, eyelid flicking, collapse and kicking movements. Dichapetalum cymosum (Gifblaar) killed an ostrich after episodes of shaking legs, rapid respiration and bradycardia and hyperaemia of the lungs, liver and kidneys. Poisoning from Senecio sceleratus (Ragwort) caused skin haemorrhages and bleeding in tracheal mucous membranes, the pericardium, diaphragm and interperitoneal membrane. Consumption of drupes from Melia azedarach (Syringa berry) caused muscle tremors, kicking movements and respiratory distress. Lantana camara (Cherry pie) poisoning resulted in extremely inflamed eyes with copious yellow exudates extending down their beaks and onto their necks. Bentonite was administered by gavage at a dose of 5 g/kg. Poisoning in these cases is usually associated with the farmer allowing his/her birds to roam free-range in paddocks in which toxic plants are growing. Toxic plants should be removed from grass cut for hay.

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Correspondence to Ross G. Cooper.

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The author is willing to send photographs of all poisonous plants if requested by a reader.

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Cooper, R.G. Poisoning in ostriches following ingestion of toxic plants - field observations. Trop Anim Health Prod 39, 439–442 (2007).

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  • Field observations
  • Notes
  • Ostrich
  • Poisoning
  • Zimbabwe