Parrots living in an enclosure at Drusillas park have been killed by rats – and then others were killed after accidentally eating rat poison put down to control the pests.
The pest-controller had buried the rat poison underground, but the creatures had dropped some of it in the walk-through enclosure Lory Landing where it was then consumed by the birds.
The Alfriston zoo’s spokesperson confirmed that the park had ‘lost several rainbow lorikeets due to an issue with rats’.
She added, “Unfortunately, zoos can prove a paradise for vermin with food, water and shelter readily available.
“Pests are a major threat to our animals and if unmanaged, they can cause direct harm and spread life-threatening diseases, although any required action is only taken outside our animal enclosures as a rule.
“However, in this instance the rats had attacked and killed several birds when they descended to the ground and a more immediate response was required to protect the flock.
“We enlisted the help of a professional pest control company, who placed bait deep underground where only the rats would find it.
“However, it would appear that the rats dropped some residual bait above ground level which was subsequently ingested.
“As soon as we became aware of the danger, the birds were shut away to prevent any further casualties.
“We are administering Vitamin K as a precautionary antidote and no other animals at the Park have been affected.”
Lorikeets are small to medium parrots which live in trees. They are characterised by their special brush-tipped tongues for feeding on nectar and soft fruits.
The spokesperson said no other birds or animals had been affected by the rat attacks or the poison.