I didn't think it would happen so soon! RATS!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by mcostas, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. mcostas

    mcostas Chirping

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    I think it was rats, not much else it could be. I just got my chickens yesterday, 5 little brahmas. They are at least a month old, I thought they would be safe in the chicken tractor. I checked on them several times thoughout the night and they seemed fine. About 5am my doggies ran out and barked and the one pawed at the tractor. I scolded her because I thought she was trying to get the chicks or the food. I went in the pen before I was to leave for work and found a dead one with it's head eaten off. [​IMG]

    I should have known better, we have marsh rats in the area. They aren't terribly big but they are always around. I've seen them hop from my garden to a tree IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!

    So now I have my babies in a doggie crate in the house until they get older. I have a trap set in the run, I will continue to do this every night. I am also going to get some poison, which I really hate to do but it's impossible to control them without it.

    How big should my girls be before I can leave them out all night? I don't think there is any way to rat-proof my coop, I've seen these things walk right up the side of the house and through small cracks. Plus, since it's a tractor, it's portable so I can't bury wire under the ground.

    I figured I would have problems with coons hawks or possums. I live in a subdivision but it's near marshes and a golf course, so there are native wild animals around. I also feed birds and have a garden which probably doesn't help. The rats are there regardless though. My doggies (beagle and beagle/dachound mix) are pretty good at sniffing them out. At least I guess they are, they tell us when one is around the patio so we can eliminate them. Who knows how many sneak by them.

    The little chickens aren't roosting yet, they just huddle on the ground in the leaf mulch I put down for them. It was an easy meal for something. I should have known better. [​IMG] I have 4 left, I don't want to loose them all.

    I wonder if I should build a more secure night hutch for them. Surely I'm not the only one with a chicken tractor that lives near rats. [​IMG]
     
  2. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Crowing

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    Rats can and will attack full grown chickens. There is no age at which they will be safe from them. You'll need to rethink your housing plan if you want to ensure no further losses to that particular predator. A fully enclosed coop can be rigged up to where you can back the tractor right up to it and shoo the girls inside at dusk. Best of both worlds that way, pasturing during the day and security at night.
     
  3. Gypsi

    Gypsi Songster

    Now rats, I probably have. Light bulb moment.... This is hard stuff!
     
  4. Sweetpeaswan

    Sweetpeaswan Chirping

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    Aug 5, 2010
    I'm not a lover of this, but what about setting perimeter traps??? I don't know if it's feasable
    but it might be worth a try.
    Theres also a herbal remedy, I think it's called Cab it works like a repellant..Good luck!
     
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

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    What size wire did you use to build your tractor? I used 1/2" hardware cloth on mine, to exclude rats and raccoon paws. There is also 1/4" wire available, but the heaviest gauge it comes in is a little lighter than the 1/2" so I usually use the 1/2" size.

    You can add hinged hardware cloth panels at the bottom that fold up for moving the tractor, to prevent digging in. Moving a tractor daily is supposed to help prevent digging in, too.
     
  6. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Get some bait tubes filled with Just One Bite bait slathered in peanut butter, place them around the coop and tractor.

    Keep them filled regularly.
     
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

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    Any gaps in the coop need to be covered in wire, too.
     
  8. mcostas

    mcostas Chirping

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    Aug 2, 2010
    I am going to ratproof the coup part and add a closeable door. I used one inch chicken wire for my pen. I can put hardware cloth around any gaps in the coop. I have a slot at the bottom for a removable tray, not sure what to do about that. I don't have a tray yet, I think I can add a strip of wood on the end to ensure there is no gap.

    I guess I can rewire the pen with hardware cloth and use the chicken wire that's on it for my chicken moat I am going to make around my garden. The rats aren't very big around here, it's going to be hard to make it rat proof. One big problem is my yard is not flat so there are always gaps under the run.

    Here is a pic of it almost finished

    [​IMG]

    I guess I could fasten the hardware cloth so there is extra at the bottom.

    I set a havahart trap last night and it was tripped this morning with nothing in it. It's really hard to catch these rats. I'll be bringing them in at night for awhile.
     
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

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    1" wire is a big opening, for rats. I think they can just walk through that. I always read to use 1/2" to keep out rats and 1/4" to keep out mice.

    If you could attach panels at the bottom to prevent digging, those could be pegged down. There are landscaping fabric staples that have a finger loop at the top, to make it easier to pull them out for moving. Or, you could just weight them down with something like a brick in a couple of spots, where it's uneven.

    We have an uneven yard, too, as we live on the side of a hill. Some areas of the yard work better than others for the tractor. Sometimes we just need to keep shifting it until it's in a good spot. If you can get it to where there's only a gap or two, maybe even a couple of paving stones set next to the tractor would cover a small gap.

    How big are the gaps in the trap you have? Sometimes they need to be covered in smaller wire, too. It just depends on the trap.
     
  10. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    Oregon
    !/2" to 1/4" hardware cloth skirts at the base of your coop. You bury them a few inches if you can and make them go out at least a foot or more so when they dig next to the coop they hit the hardware cloth and most can't figure out to go out a foot or so and start digging. You can put gravel over the wire if you can't bury it a bit but bend it perpendicular to the bottom of the coop-- right at the base.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpendicular A to B is the coop's fence wall and the line from B to C is the hardware cloth. You can also add some wire in the bottom of the tractor part way from B to D but it doesn't have to be as long--perhaps 6 inches. [​IMG]
     

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