Possible rat problem?

susannalynnwilds

In the Brooder
Jul 28, 2021
34
22
31
Hey all. Tonight I went to check on my chickens just before their automatic door closed and I saw a rat running up their ladder to try and go in, but as soon as it saw me, it ran away. I opened the coop to see if there were any rats inside but did not find any signs (we have a small coop that houses 4 chickens). We use a reel-top poultry range feeder for them during the day that we take in at night, but we do have a smaller feeder we've been leaving in their coop for when they wake up in the morning. Obviously I immediately took it out of their coop upon seeing the rat, and will no longer keep food in there at night. Should I bring their water in at night too? I am hoping this will keep the rats away? Or am I going to have to start looking into bait and traps? If so, I'd rather not use poison, if at all possible. We've had the chickens in their coop since March and haven't had any problems with rats until now. Any advice is greatly appreciated!!
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Sep 29, 2014
8,085
24,219
951
New Zealand
You definitely don't want rats around because they can carry red mites which you don't want in your coop, and diseases that can be passed to humans.

Even during the day they will visit if they know they can access the food.

I know people don't like to use poison but it is honestly the only way to make a dent in the population. You might have to try a few different brands of bait before finding one they go crazy for and get the appropriate bait station so that only rats and mice can get to it.

Rats are smart and you cannot trap them faster than they can multiply.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
29,411
29,710
901
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
I have tried many different things for rats. I had a coop that was infested. When I renovated it I found several rat nests in the ceiling and walls and dozens of rats of all sizes poured out when I tore out the ceiling and the walls. Our barn is behind the coops and I had seen some evidence of rats being in the barn. I also noticed tunnels around the coops and barn which I think the rats made. I bought some rat bait stations and some bait. The rats didn't care for the bait that came with the bait stations so I bought some different bait. They liked the new bait. As long as you are responsible poison can be used without harm. I put the bait stations with the bait into pet carriers so that only the rats could get to it and put the pet carriers up on shelves so again, nothing but the rats could get to it. Rats are good climbers. The bait boxes have a little window above the bait so it can be checked often. The bait boxes also have a patrician down the middle inside the box that the rats have to go around to get to the bait so the bait stays in the bait stations. I didn't find any dead rats and I think it's because they went into their tunnels and died. I not advocating using poison only that I did after trying many other things, it worked best for me. Good luck...
 

chickmamato7

Songster
Aug 13, 2020
212
452
141
Rochester, NY
300 birds is a lot!! Impressive that you have no rats with that number. I just bought this electric mouse & rat zapper as a preventative measure: https://hiowltra.com/
I'm going to place it outside the coop where the mice got in last year. Removing the feeders is not really an option for me either, since mine holds 50 lbs of feed. I am going to try to find a metal box that could cover it, though.
 

Marinefam2053

Songster
Jul 18, 2019
99
218
127
Deep South East
I know for sure that I have rats, my son and I killed 3, and I know that’s not even a dent in the population. I don’t keep food in the shed anymore because of the rats, and I don’t care about being humane with them… if I had a little 22 pistol, would’ve been more successful with killing more tonight. We saw at least 10… I’m frustrated. Help!!!
 

Al Gerhart

Crowing
10 Years
Sep 29, 2011
846
743
251
Oklahoma City
Bringing the feed inside at night just teaches the rodents to eat during the day assuming these are actually rats. Some roosters will take them on, most won't. Here is a repeat post I just put up on another rodent problem thread:

"Do a forum search for Howard E., who in my opinion, is the best rodent expert on the forum. I copied and pasted one of his replies from several years back that has the meat of the solution for you. People tend to run one of two ways, willing to invest in an expensive feeder or willing to fight a battle with rodents and find another way. Only you can say which you have more of; time or money.

Here is Howard E.'s past post:

"To the OP (and others like them), if you will spend the time, everything you need to know about rats and how to get ride of them will be found in the links below......

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/rat-control-the-video-series.1337456/

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/rat-control-101.1283827/

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/rat-proof-feeder-review.1180514/#post-18610285

This last one is a review of a rat proof chicken feeder built and sold by a BYC member, who is a staunch advocate for the plan of getting rid of rats by starving them out. Remove all sources of feed and they will be forced to move on or starve to death. If you are firmly against the use of poison bait blocks......for whatever reason.......then this is one of the best actions you can take. Bulk food in metal trash cans.....chicken feed in metal rat proof feeders. Can't get to the feed and birds do not spill and waste feed that the rats can survive on."

And the short version of Howard's post? Sanitation, exclusion, elimination.

Sanitation, bulk feed in metal cans or barrels with tight fitting lids, a treadle feeder, clean up the avenues of movement so the rodents have no cover to protect them from their natural predators. In my opinion and experience this is the quickest, surest, and cheapest way to solve a rodent problem.

Exclusion, plugging the holes and building a Fort Knox chicken coop and not leaving an opening for free range. Tough to do and expensive but it could work for rats.

Elimination, poison and traps. Problem is that rats are smart and will quickly learn to avoid both traps and poison bait. Were you to clean them out, the lack of sanitation would mean a new population of rodents would move right in. And there is risk and no end to the process, keeping fresh bait out. However, if you have done your sanitation using poison becomes effective as the rats are starving and will likely try the poison bait. Not needed though, they will leave in a few days as long as you are not feeding the rodents with a compost pile or other animal feed. Not all will leave, your area will have a natural carrying capacity for rodents, natural feed, but that natural ability to sustain rodents is quite small and the natural predators keep them in check and under cover as the rodents hustle to find this natural food.

Do a forum search on "rats chickens" and you will find most of the old wives tales exposed and read of long epic battles against the rodents. Sanitation, exclusion, or elimination all have associated costs but you are already paying for the feed and will recover the initial costs quickly with the first method.

Good luck and remember, it isn't just the stolen feed, disease and predators come with rodents."
 

susannalynnwilds

In the Brooder
Jul 28, 2021
34
22
31
Bringing the feed inside at night just teaches the rodents to eat during the day assuming these are actually rats. Some roosters will take them on, most won't. Here is a repeat post I just put up on another rodent problem thread:

"Do a forum search for Howard E., who in my opinion, is the best rodent expert on the forum. I copied and pasted one of his replies from several years back that has the meat of the solution for you. People tend to run one of two ways, willing to invest in an expensive feeder or willing to fight a battle with rodents and find another way. Only you can say which you have more of; time or money.

Here is Howard E.'s past post:

"To the OP (and others like them), if you will spend the time, everything you need to know about rats and how to get ride of them will be found in the links below......

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/rat-control-the-video-series.1337456/

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/rat-control-101.1283827/

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/rat-proof-feeder-review.1180514/#post-18610285

This last one is a review of a rat proof chicken feeder built and sold by a BYC member, who is a staunch advocate for the plan of getting rid of rats by starving them out. Remove all sources of feed and they will be forced to move on or starve to death. If you are firmly against the use of poison bait blocks......for whatever reason.......then this is one of the best actions you can take. Bulk food in metal trash cans.....chicken feed in metal rat proof feeders. Can't get to the feed and birds do not spill and waste feed that the rats can survive on."

And the short version of Howard's post? Sanitation, exclusion, elimination.

Sanitation, bulk feed in metal cans or barrels with tight fitting lids, a treadle feeder, clean up the avenues of movement so the rodents have no cover to protect them from their natural predators. In my opinion and experience this is the quickest, surest, and cheapest way to solve a rodent problem.

Exclusion, plugging the holes and building a Fort Knox chicken coop and not leaving an opening for free range. Tough to do and expensive but it could work for rats.

Elimination, poison and traps. Problem is that rats are smart and will quickly learn to avoid both traps and poison bait. Were you to clean them out, the lack of sanitation would mean a new population of rodents would move right in. And there is risk and no end to the process, keeping fresh bait out. However, if you have done your sanitation using poison becomes effective as the rats are starving and will likely try the poison bait. Not needed though, they will leave in a few days as long as you are not feeding the rodents with a compost pile or other animal feed. Not all will leave, your area will have a natural carrying capacity for rodents, natural feed, but that natural ability to sustain rodents is quite small and the natural predators keep them in check and under cover as the rodents hustle to find this natural food.

Do a forum search on "rats chickens" and you will find most of the old wives tales exposed and read of long epic battles against the rodents. Sanitation, exclusion, or elimination all have associated costs but you are already paying for the feed and will recover the initial costs quickly with the first method.

Good luck and remember, it isn't just the stolen feed, disease and predators come with rodents."
Thank you so much for this incredibly extensive and helpful information. You are awesome for posting this!
 

Shelly-Chickens

In the Brooder
Jul 26, 2021
5
3
10
So glad to hear I'm not alone in this. Just purchased the Rat Proof Chicken Feeder after reading all the reviews I could find. My rat problem is new, but the numbers are growing exponentially... pretty sure I'm attracting existing rats as they can't possibly multiply that fast. 'My' rats are smart... evading all my traps, and I figure they'll learn how to handle the Grandpa's Feeder in no time. According to the reviews, the Rat Proof Chicken Feeder is the way to go. I had to buy four to avoid crazy high shipping fees from Oklahoma to Canada. Am selling the other three on Kijiji for what I paid. They arrive this week and I'm SOOO excited! Will keep you posted.
 

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