I think I have a rat...developing story

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Xtina, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Well, I'm at the start of a new problem with my chickens! I swear, two trouble-free years and now this year has been full of problems!

    I started noticing a network of tunnels the other day, and couldn't remember when the first time I saw the tunnel was. Did I see a tunnel in August and pretend I didn't because I didn't want there to be a tunnel? I don't know. But I hoped at first that that was the case. Before I lost a chicken in October, I never used to close my coop at night, so when I noticed the hole, I hoped that it was from an old rat that had been getting in before I shut my coop at night.

    After I admitted that I was really seeing a hole in the ground in my chicken run, I took a look around and discovered a LOT of holes, probably about six or seven, and a few spots dug out under my coop. My coop has always been a box sitting on the ground with no wire underneath it and it's never been a problem till now. So I plugged up the holes with the dirt and they got dug out again. Darn. I guess this means the holes aren't old from some rat that has given up and moved on now that I've been faithfully shutting my coop every night.

    I put out a Havahart trap that worked to catch my raccoon, and I baited it with brewing grains, but it's been about 4 days and no rat has been caught, but new tunnels have been dug. The worst part is, the tunnels do not appear to be being dug at night. They're being dug during the broad daylight. Obviously, it's my chickens' feeder that is attracting it/them.

    So here's what's on my mind. Let me know your thoughts if you have them. I expect this to be an ongoing saga.

    1. I don't know that this is really a rat. I've never seen it. The tunnel comes out of the ground at an angle from under a few objects and piles of dead grass clippings in the chicken run (not in the coop). I googled "rat hole" for images and all of them came straight out of the ground instead of at an angle. The same thing for "gopher hole." The holes are pretty big so I don't think it could be a mouse, so rat is my best guess. Does anyone have any other suggestions that I haven't thought of?

    2. I don't want to use poison. There are lots of cats in the neighborhood and I have two wily dogs that manage to get into EVERYTHING. That's a tragedy I am not going to risk.

    3. First step, put the small, hexagonal chicken wire under the coop. I think the rest of the structure is tight, it's just the bottom that's unsecured.

    4. Remove grass clippings and garbage bins to remove their safe habitat.

    5. There are lots of great rat-related threads on here, so I've read all about cayenne pepper and home-built rat traps. These might be good ideas going forward, although I'm doubtful about a trap working, since these rats already seem too smart to be trapped. They should have already been caught in the Havahart, but they're totally ignoring it and going straight for the feeder, which they already know is safe.

    6. I don't imagine that hanging my feeder will help, because a rat can probably jump higher than my chickens can reach. Since the rat's getting in during the day, I can't very well close the food up. My hens free-range in their run during the day and they have to have access to their food.

    7. I suppose I could use dogs to solve the problem, but since I'm unwilling to risk my dogs' health to kill nasty city rats, it doesn't seem fair to borrow someone's Jack Russel or Schnauzer. I'm also not averse to using some kind of air gun or pellet gun, but I really don't have the time to sit outside and shoot rats. Also, I really, really, don't want to move any dead rats. I'd rather they just lose their incentive to hang around my yard and leave for greener pastures.
     
  2. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just read on a vermin hole identification site: Rats are secretive and rarely seen during the day. If you see them during daylight hours, it means you have a lot of rats on the premises.

    This is sounding really bad. I suppose I could stick a hose into one of the holes and turn the faucet on, after bringing my two dogs into the chicken run with me. I wonder how many rats are going to come out. Oh gosh, I think I'm going to have nightmares tonight.
     
  3. BlacksheepCardigans

    BlacksheepCardigans Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 11, 2010
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  4. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hah, yeah, that's the site I was just at.
     
  5. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    Quote:Use the 1/2" hardware cloth, not chicken wire, under your coop. Rats can fit through the hexagonal holes and besides, that wire is easily stretched, whereas the hardware cloth is not. Hardware cloth is more expensive, but WELL worth it.

    good luck!
     
  6. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Excellent, thanks for the advice.
     
  7. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    I can't help you on the outside tunnel network other than suggest you flood it and use a pellet gun on what pops up, but to stop them from getting into the coop by digging in through the floor, we used large ceramic tiles from Home Depot on a heavy plywood base, and tiled the floor and 6 inches up the walls inside of the coop. We bought the cheapest we could find when they had a clearance on them. Any rat that cares to gnaw through that floor is going to have a tooth ache and a half.

    We haven't seen any rats yet, but then we have a number of things that worry me more than rats.

    Coyotes, fox (gray and red), mink, weasels, raccoons, and fisher just for starters.
     
  8. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    Man I knew had a problem with rats tunneling everywhere .His town was digging to put in sewers and it caused relocation of the greater rat population. He had a dog kennel not chickens, didn't want poison out either. He told me he'd pour gasoline down the hole followed by a lighted cigar. Seemed to work well for him but, don't think I would want to experience those fireworks.
    '
     
  9. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I actually thought of that solution, but there's too much fence around the area. It's actually in a corner in between two wood fences, not to mention the grass and old grass clippings around. So no gasoline for me, even though I'm sure it would be incredibly effective. I'll probably drown them, but I don't own a pellet gun. I wonder if any neighbors do. I guess I could do this with my two dogs in the run with me. I'm pretty sure they'd have a blast shaking rats to death.
     

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