Rat - Chicken Pests - How To Protect Your Chickens From Rats

Rats like to live alongside humans, and take every opportunity to prey on their food and livestock.
By BYC Support · Jan 10, 2012 · Updated Jun 13, 2013 · ·
  1. BYC Support
    General Information and Description

    Widely considered a pest in homes and farms, rats are long-tailed rodents in the biological superfamily Muroidea. Their large size distinguishes them from mice. Rats like to live alongside humans, and take every opportunity to prey on their food and livestock. These predators often do their dirty work at night. Rats are also known to carry zoonotic pathogens, or animal-borne diseases like Leptospira and Weil’s disease. In fact, the Black Death that plagued Europe in the 1300s is believed to be caused by black rats carrying the tropical rat fleas. Today, they are known to carry diseases like swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease.


    Rats are found all over the world. They love living in close proximity to humans and have adapted to living and nearly any conditions. They have a highly sensitive sense of smell that leads them to sources of food. You may find them in areas near your poultry houses, feed stores, or in close proximity to your livestock. Some may even live inside your home. Rats enjoy burrowing underground or creating dwelling spaces in cellars and basements. These help protect them against their natural predators. Rats are rarely seen in the daytime and do their damage at night when most of the world is asleep.

    Methods of kill

    A rat's predatory prowess centers on it's powerful teeth, which can gnaw at wooden barriers. They are known to eat through chicken wire with their razor sharp teeth. Their relentless gnawing can give them access to livestock and other types of food. While they are not generally known to attack larger animals, they will attack adult roosters and hens which defend themselves furiously by killing rats with their sharp eagle-like claws. However, chicks are easy prey. Rats are known to pounce on and bite a chick continually until it is immobilized while other rats come in like vultures to finish it off. Eggs are also eaten.

    Prevention and treatment

    One way to ensure you don't end up with a rat infestation is to block their access their access and not leave food around that could attract them. You could also switch your regular chicken feeder with a rat proof chicken feeder. If you have sacks of feed stored in unprotected wooden sheds, rats can gnaw through and get to them. You may want to build concrete shacks or store your feed in large airtight storage bins to reduce the smell. A number of options are thoroughly discussed here. Also make sure you place traps and poisons where your chickens, children and other pets cannot access it. Given the opportunity, a chicken may eat rat bait with tragic results. Just make sure you regularly check bait stations and throw out dead rats so the chickens don’t eat them. Rats love stealing eggs, so make sure you collect them frequently. Keep chicks in a secure chick brooder.

    For more info and discussions on dealing with rats, see the Predators and Pests section of the forum.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Anonymous
    "Gender info on rats."
    3/5, 3 out of 5, reviewed Jan 27, 2019
    Good start but could be more in depth.
  2. ronott1
    "Good Article"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 7, 2018
    Well written over view of protecting poultry from Rats
  3. mrs_organized_chaos
    "Good general info"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 26, 2018


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  1. Lizzy733
    We've had a rat tunnel under our hardware cloth skirting a few times - back-filling the hole and clogging it with stones\wood\cinder blocks wasn't working, but I saw a suggestion to use steel-wool to stuff the hole and that did the trick - it diverted the tunnel once and then stopped trying after I stuffed the second one.
  2. rogersne
    Whats the plaster if parus mix?
      Ursuline Chick likes this.
  3. countrydream7
  4. pollitaroja
    My chicken coop is infested. I am very afraid of them and i dont go in at night I ask the fearless to help me at night.
    The coop is a dog run with a roof. I have 15 hens and a rooster I'm afraid for the chicks when they hatch.
    I put some sticky traps and only the first night it got 2 rats but no more. They know hoe to avoid them . I will try the plaster or paris mix.Wish me luck. I do not want to get rid of may babies.
  5. Catfish267
    I hate them

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