Killer rats! Please help.

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by beckstaar96, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. beckstaar96

    beckstaar96 Just Hatched

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm a new user and this is my first post! I wish it was a happier one.

    NOTE: My chicken walk-in coop is built within a pig pen (we have a Kune Kune pet pig), but before last year we never had a rat problem, even with the pig. But with the pig living next to the chickens, the rats are pretty persistent.

    Last summer, two of my female Pekin Bantams had chicks. Altogether there were about 12 chicks. In the first two weeks, i found one or two dead chicks. Now i presumed this was of natural causes, because the chicks didn't looked damaged, they were simply lying dead in the hutch. The next week, I went up to feed them and noticed a chick was missing. I searched and searched but couldn't find the chick. It was THEN I noticed a small hole underneath the fencing. This concerned me immediately, however as we had never had a rat problem I thought maybe the chick had wondered off down a mouse hole, as the hole really wasn't very big. But then all broke loose, I ended up losing ALL of our chicks within the month. I was devastated! Then, one morning I went up to my chicken coop, and was shocked when I saw the body of one of my hens under the hutch, with its head missing.

    It definitely 110% was not a fox, the damage was nowhere near severe enough. There was a large hole next to the coop and inside the coop. I had tried my best to fill them in, we even put posion down them but nothing stopped the **** things. I live in the UK (is this an international forum?), so it couldn't really have been anything else. About 6 monthes ago I moved the chickens hutch down beside the house because I couldn't bare to leave them up there. They were fine, until about two months ago, I open the cage and there was yet another dead headless hen, and I noticed a gnawed hole in the bottom of the hutch where a Rat had gotten in.



    So, that is my rat horror story. The same day I found my dead hen, I moved my remaining hen and cockerel into a cage inside my house (they still wonder free range around the garden during the day though!)

    Now, as much as they adore being inside the house, they are making a mess! It is also coming to Spring and they are starting to mate. I'd love for my hen to have another batch of chicks, and maybe we can restock our flock, however they can't do that whilst they're inside as there is no room, nor can they do it whilst there is a rat problem!!

    Is there any suggestions for helping me rat proof my coop so they can move back outside and raise chicks? I'm very worried about them going back there but my parents are getting fed up of the mess they are making inside....

    We have tried:
    Rat poison
    Clearing up food so there is none lying around at night time
    Filling in the holes (although that is only a temporary fix)
    Moving the chickens
    Wiring over the holes
    But none of the above has worked.

    We were thinking of cementing the floor, however would rats eventually dig through that too?
    I was thinking of putting chicken wire (the strong thick wire, not the flimsy gapped wire) along the base and covering the ground of the coop, then placing wooden planks to cover the wire, and then placing soil etc on top of that to make it better for the chickens. But I'm thinking the rats would probably get through that too...
    I'm going to raise the hutch, as at the moment it is not very low off the ground. (It's a two story rabbit hutch, but it does very well for the chickens!) (Until two months ago)


    Here are pictures of the coop the chickens were in last summer, my boyfriend and I built it:
    (NOTE:the small wooden shed is the pigs house, the chickens have a hutch inside the wired coop).

    [​IMG]
    Above: The rats hole has now run all along the front of the pigs house (where my sister is) right around the front of it to the back of the chicken pen.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The hole around the front of the pigs house runs around to the back here ^^
    [​IMG]



    Sorry for the long post, and many thanks for reading!!! Any suggestions?
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I don't think you are dealing with rats. It's more likely you are dealing with a stoat, which is why the poisons are not attracting them....they are meat eaters. Here's a video on a simple trap to build that can help you trap your stoat/weasel. Other folks dealing with this right now too here in the states, so you are not alone. Just that time of year.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. beckstaar96

    beckstaar96 Just Hatched

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    Thank you for your reply~ We did consider that at the time as the holes were quite big, however we have never seen stoats/weasals around here-ever. We live amongst woods and have lived here for over 30 years, never once have seen a stoat, so we ruled it out! After doing some research we realised that rats can kill chickens and sometimes do chew off the heads, which is why we think it was rats. I had also seen rats around the pen a couple of times before the attacks. The chickens weren't eaten, apart from their faces...i'm not sure...very puzzled.


    Thank you for the videos, do you know if there is perhaps a humane way of catching them?
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  4. authHeirlooms

    authHeirlooms Just Hatched

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    So sorry that this is happening to you. With our coop we dug hardware cloth under the ground about 3ft out from the edge of the coop on the outside, and then stapled it to the edge of the coop. We dug more hardware cloth under the base of the coop so they overlapped stapling again to the coop edge. The theory is that digging animals will usually back up a bit if they can't dig right at the edge of the coop, so you have to extend the barrier back so that they can't just move back & dig under. Cover that with soil & heavy rocks if you can For extra protection you can add additional layers. If the predator is chewing through the wood you can also staple hardware cloth to it directly - if it can chew through wire though, I don't know! Hope that helps & so sorry for your losses.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    How big were/are the holes...in inches or cm...or take a pic with a ruler next to hole.

    Humane way to catch what killed all your birds?!
    Seriously... if you trap it, you want it dead.
     
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  6. beckstaar96

    beckstaar96 Just Hatched

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    Thank you, that's an interesting theory, I may give it a try!
     
  7. beckstaar96

    beckstaar96 Just Hatched

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    Hiya, it's dark over here now but tomorrow i will take a picture and show you the holes! :)

    As for being Humane...I can't kill anything, I literally cannot kill a fly haha! It's horrible that they took my beloved chickens, but the rats/stoat/predator was only doing what was in its nature! Still, i do see your point....
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  9. beckstaar96

    beckstaar96 Just Hatched

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    I didn't actually put the poison down the holes, my dad did. I stopped him for doing it for as long as I could but he did it anyway
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I've never seen a weasel in these woods in all my life either...just because you don't see them doesn't mean they are not there. They are largely nocturnal, so if you aren't out there all night, there's a good chance you won't see them. If they are ignoring the poison, it's probably not rats. I've killed rats easily with poison....put it out one night and the next day rats are crawling out of the buildings to die.

    You can live trap a weasel if you want to.
     

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