Determined rat won't quit eating my chicken feed--please help!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by TwoDogFarm, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. TwoDogFarm

    TwoDogFarm Chirping

    Jun 16, 2014
    North Carolina
    It's getting really cold out and we have a terrible rat problem that we can't stop. We have a few banty chickens and to keep them warm in the winter, my husband built a wooden house/run for them. It's not tall enough for us to walk in. We have hardware cloth on some of the sides for ventilation and near the door, he built a wooden platform with wood on the sides. The rest of the area bottom is dirt.

    I would say it was around November when we started noticing a tunnel leading under the door/platform and when my husband shook the house, a rat came running out. We have tried multiple times to catch this rat while he was under the house, but now, he's gotten smart and only comes at night after we have gone to bed. I'm not sure where he goes during the day. Now, he's made a tunnel all the way through under the platform and is coming in and eating the chicken food every night and drinking their water.

    We tried putting cinder blocks and bricks around the door and along the sides of the run, but he just digs a deeper hole in front and under the bricks and still gets in. We've tried pouring a whole bag of rocks under the platform and he dug all the rocks out and still got under. We've tried a large live trap, which he won't go in and then we recently purchased a small live trap for mice. It looked like he went in it one time, but it appears that he was able to get out, so I think it may have been too small. He hasn't gone in it since and I'm afraid if we purchase a larger one, he won't go in it either and we will have wasted money. This is one determined, smart rat. I know we can use a snap trap, but we also have goats that sometimes walk around the area, and I don't want them getting their feet snapped.

    Today when I went to feed the chickens, I noticed several tunnels coming into the coop from all sides. We've got to get rid of this thing. He is eating a ton of food, costing us money. I'm not even sure how much the chickens are able to eat because almost every day, the feeder is empty, when they used to take at least three to four days to eat that much before Mr. Rat came along. I also know that mice/rats carry all kinds of diseases that could make chickens sick or kill them.

    Does anyone have any other ideas of how to get rid of this rat? I don't want to put poison around my chickens, but I'm afraid that while he gets a free meal every night, and since it looks like he's already aware of what those metal things are, he won't be willing to go into anything else. Please help. I'm all out of ideas. [​IMG]
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
  3. TwoDogFarm

    TwoDogFarm Chirping

    Jun 16, 2014
    North Carolina
  4. Cacique500

    Cacique500 Songster

    Jun 2, 2013
    Atlanta, Georgia
    We had the same problem and went through almost the same steps! We tried the electronic trap and it didn't work...tried the rocks, bricks, sand, cinderblocks, etc. What DID work was this:

    With the Tomcat rat bait. We put it on the back side (and outside) of the run, so no way the chickens could get to it (even when they free range, the poison is out of reach inside the tube).

    It took about a week, but we got him.

    Good luck with it!
  5. Big Bubba

    Big Bubba Chirping

    May 19, 2013
    I'm going through similar issues and feel like things are improving.

    Rats are supper smart. I've come to respect them. They are incredibly difficult to catch. They aren't mice; which take me seconds to catch.

    The most important step I've taken is to bring the food in every night. Since the rats are already there you might look at another step. Remove the spilled food. I created a hardware platform so the spill can fall into the cracks and I clean it out every so often.

    As you've found out building a fort so they can't get in gets pretty difficult. I find a new loophole every other day. It just never seems to end.

    My main problem seems to be I wanted it done right away. I've tried to kill them a hundred different ways. Be patient. Take away what they want and they will go away.
  6. HotDesertChick

    HotDesertChick Chirping

    Jan 4, 2015
    Southern New Mexico
    Rats! **** RATS! They have been with mankind since the beginning of time. Learning how to outwit us, and breed,...uhh, duh,, well,... "rats"?

    The worst rat infestation that I/we had occurred in western WA, when I had (messy) fancy pigeons. Our four acre property abutted a big river, and every fall the dammn rats would move in. They burrowed beneath the wide/deep foundation, popping up within the dirt floor like Zombies from the Deep. You catch the stupid ones first. becomes a total challenge to NOT be "outwitted" by a "simple rat".

    A trapper friend recommended using grain-based rat poison, mixed with honey. You may HAVE to consider poison to get these creeps? Mix FRESH bait every single day, on a new/cheap paper plate (try to keep all "human scents" away too). No exceptions, please. I covered the bait area with a slightly-tilted box, so that birds could not gain entrance. A rat's paradise?: Honey & cover, and few smells of people? This DID work, as long as I was diligent about keeping the bait fresh, and quickly removing any/all dead rats. You may have to experiment with what "rat poison" suits their fancy, but they're real suckers for honey. Try it.

    I use HB Sherman traps for small varmints like packrats in our present location (NM). I bait the trap with peanut butter-mouse-chow bonbons for packrats and meese, as they are "vegans". Small wax paper parcels tossed in the back of the metal rectangular trap,... and you HAVE yo rat, or mouse. Our packrats don't exceed 7.5 inches from head to tip-o'tail, so the metal invention works very well for any varmint under this general size. Big roof rats, and Norway rats...well,...these traps are not gonna work, and bait may have to be "customized". Sherman traps are hard to find. I think Tomahawk Trap Co. (live sells theses?? Used to? I bought mine through Ben Meadows, but there are other/cheaper sources.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    You will need to set out poison; rats are VERY difficult to trap. if you see one, plan on probably dozens! Be careful of the type of poison and how you set up the feeder so that other critters aren't killed too. As soon as possible, put in a concrete floor or at least a dig-proof perimeter for the coop. Good luck, Mary
  8. With my first henhouse and run, I dug up a 6 inch base for the entire coop and run. I covered the ground in wire mesh and stapled it to the cage base and then shovelled all the soil back in over the top of it. I did that because I wanted the hens to have a soil base so they could dig in the dirt and dust bathe, but also be free from rats and snakes. It was a lot of effort, but it worked. Unfortunately, I've since bought a new henhouse and relocated it without making the effort to do the same and am experiencing the same problem as you. This is just because I haven't yet settled on the final location for my chickens. But if that's your final henhouse destination, and the rats are a real problem, and you have the energy, then a deep buried mesh base is the way to go. I bought the wire mesh and staple gun from my local hardware store.
  9. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Set this/these trap(s) out at night, use cheese. Check it early in the morning before you let the chickens and goats out. They are cheap and very effective.
  10. RonP

    RonP Crowing

    Posted to another query.
    Hope it helps.:

    My understanding is that rats/mice are everywhere.
    They will congregate and breed where there is available food, water, and shelter.
    Look closely around any fast food restaurant and you will see rat bait stations.

    They will eventually come, the idea is to prevent them from establishing a colony.
    If you see 1, there are probably fifty.
    If you see two or more holes, expect dozens.

    Keeping a rat trap/bait station baited 24/7 hopefully keeps the population from establishing near your food source. Once established, they are very difficult to eliminate.

    Remember, chickens don't attract rats, food does.

    That said, I fabricated black 4 inch circular x 18" long drainage plastic pipe as a bait station.
    Placed along the outside of my coop, looks like drainage pipe (not unsightly).
    I put a t fitting in the center, capped, for easy viewing once a week.
    Inside I maintain commercial rat poison.

    My run has food scraps 24/7.
    My coop has food access 24/7.
    Water access 24/7.

    5 years, no sign of rats or mice...

    Hope this helps.

    1 person likes this.

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