Brown Rat versus Woodrat

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Big Bubba, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. Big Bubba

    Big Bubba Out Of The Brooder

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    Right now, I'm not sure what I have. I know something had dug into my compost. Could not catch it.

    Today my dogs noticed movement in the garden that is fenced in. Sure enough, there was a rat. It was chewing on some leaves. Seemed odd for a rat to be active during daytime. I live in a mostly, urban area. So, I'm guessing it is a Brown Rat. But, they are nocturnal. I don't know much about Woodrats. Plus, it seems odd for a Brown rat to be chewing on leaves.

    Right now, it seems they stay away from the chickens and their coop. I've checked all around the coop. Not a sign.

    Assuming they are Woodrats; do I need to do anything about it? I can secure the compost. The garden I can fix up. Will they leave the coop alone?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    The thousands of species of wild rodents are only rarely an issue, it's just the house mouse, brown and black rat, basically. You can secure the compost but unless it's full of rich scraps often, that may be pointless. In fact your dogs may use the compost as bait to get the rodent if you leave it unsecured. We dig the scraps through the dirt to help solve issues there with attracting wildlife.

    If you leave grain around all the time everything will come to eat it including wild birds, but in my experience it's only those rodents specifically known to associate with humans that will ever give you grief. They're the ones who decide to take up camp in your house or coops, and eat domestic animals' extremities while they sleep, and steal the babies to bite into their heads so they're crippled but will live for a while, stashed wherever the rat put them...

    As you may guess I have had some very bad experiences with some rodents lol. Went through a mouse plague once, they were everywhere, and so hungry they were hanging off the livestock.

    Anyway, if there's no grain in the coop overnight chances are you won't have an issue there.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Where are you located? You can put your location in your profile, can help folks give more accurate solutions.
    Knowing where you are might help identify the species, and thus how to assess it's threat.

    Definitely any rodent will target chicken food left out, especially overnight.
    Small mesh wire (1/2") covering any opening in the coop is always a good idea.


    ETA: I believe rats are omnivores, so eating greens not unusual.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have woodrats and rice rats in natural areas. The pest species black / Norway rats only around feed areas with buildings and they can be abundant if too much spilled grain present.
     
  5. Big Bubba

    Big Bubba Out Of The Brooder

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    I owe an update.

    Basically, I'm in a semi-urban area just outside of DC. I thought the little critters couldn't get into the coop and run. I looked all over and didn't see any droppings. I, also, was 100% convinced the coop and run were tight. The rats I saw were in my garden. I grow a lot of stuff - beans, corn, tomatoes, tomatillos, potatoes, etc. The rats I saw were in the garden and in my compost.

    Living where I do, rats are not an uncommon problem even without chickens. But, I certainly didn't want to contribute to the problem and thought I'd done everything to deal with it. In short, I was wrong.

    I have discovered a hole in my run, now covered. I'm horrible with their feed as it is spilled around many places.

    Right now, I'm working to kill as many as possible. I'm working on getting better organized with their feed - no longer throwing 10 tomato treats into their coop.

    I've made some mistakes but I'm working hard to rectify the situation.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Rodents are tenacious little [email protected], they will make you change your habits.

    We don't have rats around here to my knowledge but mice are a constant battle. I keep my feed/grains in metal garbage cans with well fitting lids inside the shed where the coop is. I do keep crumble feeders out 24/7 in the coop, but my coop is a 6 sided envelope of 1/2" hardware cloth. I usually keep traps set in the garage and all the sheds, especially in winter when there is a surge of activity in seeking warmth.

    You'll never eliminate them completely, but you can set up defenses to minimize their impact on your world.
    Best of Luck to you.
     

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