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Anticoagulant resistance in the United Kingdom and a new guideline for the management of resistant infestations of Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus Berk.)


Correspondence to: Alan Buckle, School of Biological Sciences, Harbourne Building, University of Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AS, UK. E-mail:


Anticoagulant resistance was first discovered in UK Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus Berk.) in 1958 and has been present ever since. The possible detrimental impact of resistance on effective rodent control was quickly recognised, and, for almost three decades, extensive research was conducted on the geographical distribution and severity of anticoagulant resistance in UK rats. Various schemes for the eradication of resistant rats were also implemented. At first, surveys showed resistance only to the first-generation anticoagulants, such as warfarin, chlorophacinone and coumatetralyl, but, later, resistance to the more potent second-generation anticoagulants, such as difenacoum and bromadiolone, was also discovered. Unlike some European countries, where only one or two resistance mutations occur, virtually all known rat resistance mutations occur in the United Kingdom, and five (Leu128Gln, Tyr139Ser, Tyr139Cys, Tyr139Phe and Leu120Gln) are known to have significant impacts on anticoagulant efficacy. Little is currently known of the geographical extent of anticoagulant resistance among Norway rats in the United Kingdom because no comprehensive survey has been conducted recently. At an operational level, anticoagulants generally retain their utility for Norway rat control, but it is impossible to control resistant rats in some areas because of restrictions on the use of the more potent resistance-breaking compounds. This paper reviews the development of resistance in Norway rats in the United Kingdom, outlines the present situation for resistance management and introduces a new resistance management guideline from the UK Rodenticide Resistance Action Group. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry