Rat Control 101

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Howard E, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    2,229
    2,119
    246
    Feb 18, 2016
    Missouri
    This thread is a condensed summary of information found in numerous other threads, and all of it designed to help concerned BYC growers deal with rat their infestations. It is divided into three parts:

    1. Know your rat
    2. Rat Proofing
    3. Elimination

    Each of these sections will also include some older historic videos produced by the CDC (Center for disease control). While these videos are dated in appearance, the information presented in them remains valid today and will be helpful to anyone seeking to rid themselves of rats.

    Know Your Rat

    Before you can do much about your rat problem, you need to know which one of the two major species of rats you have. Behaviors are different, and thus control methods are also different. Brown rats will make up the vast majority of the rats BYC growers will need to deal with.

    1. Brown Rats

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_rat

    2. Black Rats

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rat

    This video explains the nature of Brown Rats......whether your colony is small or large.....this is what you are up against:



    Rat Proofing

    When it comes to rat proofing a structure, most growers will be stunned, bordering on overwhelmed, as to the length a person must go to create a physical structure that is rat proof. Rats are that good.

    Here are two resources to study:

    https://wildlife.unl.edu/pdfs/rodent-proof-consturction-structural.pdf



    A few key items to remember: First is the size of an opening a rat can slip through......no holes larger than an inch, so in general, be thinking 1/2" hardware cloth over any openings. Second, if you are really up against it, metal and cement are your friends. Cement floors and foundations to create barriers of exclusion, along with metal siding or metal clad doors and jams. Study the video to see what a rat can chew through and all the ways then can gain entry and the difficulty of exclusion becomes clearer. Of all the things to study, this rat proofing video is one of the best to follow.

    Elimination

    Some growers find that exclusion via rat proofing efforts is all that is needed to work for them. That means elimination of all access to food, water and shelter within and around the coop. Theory being you can starve them out and they will move on. For others, even that doesn't work.

    If rat proofing doesn't work, and elimination is still your goal, then you are faced with killing your rats by one means or another. Trapping, shooting, dogs, cats, etc. are all methods found in this arena, as is the use of poison bait blocks. A lot of folks find the latter to be objectionable, but experience has proven that unless and until a grower is willing to use them, their rat problem may never go away. At best, it may be diminished, but never eliminated.

    Some resources towards elimination:

    http://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2016/01/29/controlling-rats-and-mice-around-the-farm/

    http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/rodenticides.pdf

    When considering the use of one particular product, it may be helpful to print out this summary sheet, then look at the product label to ID what the active ingredient is, then decide if that is what you want to use, or perhaps you would prefer to use something else.

    Then there is this video:



    Note the issue of rat control using traps, etc. is addressed within the first minute of the video. That is as true today as it was then, and for the same reasons. Trapping alone will barely dent the population of a rat colony. They are too smart for that to work. Traps can be used to monitor populations, but is not an effective method of control when used alone.

    Beyond that, the baits used are different today than are shown in the video, but the process is the same, including the use of multiple forms of bait blocks, and for the same reasons. And you can use game cameras to monitor activity (instead of tracking powder), but the process is the same.

    Lastly, if and when you decide to use poison bait blocks, it should be a given that you are going to do so as safely as possible so as to avoid the danger of any primary or secondary poisoning of unintended targets. This means any poisons will be served up from secure bait boxes that only the rats and mice can gain entry into. As noted in the video, if allowed to, it is the nature of rats to drag a bait off from where you left it, and in doing so, leave it exposed to non targeted species.......like perhaps your birds. So proper bait stations use methods to pin the bait in place so it has to be eaten where you left it.

    Secondary poisoning is a real concern of some, but can be mitigated to a large extent by how things are done, and if a real concern, you can select baits that pose very low risk of secondary poisoning. Baits like Terad3 from Bell Labs.

    As for which brands of poison baits to use, there are a lot of products to chose from. What you use will be up to you, and will be based on local availability, price, and your experience as to which products your rats will accept.

    A good place to start is with Bell Labs products, which are used by many professional exterminators. These products may not be available locally as others are, but can be ordered from Amazon and perhaps ebay. Disadvantage is they come in larger quantities than most need, thus the expense factor runs high. Their bait boxes are very good, however, and those can be ordered in small quantities.

    https://www.belllabs.com/products

    As for how much to buy, if you have a large infestation, don't be shy about how much to get. They will go through more than you might think.

    Lastly, know that once you have had rats, you are always subject to having more, so it becomes critical that you monitor for activity, and that goes on pretty much forever.

    Hope this information helps.
     
  2. SueT

    SueT Free Ranging

    4,807
    10,383
    617
    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    There's a pelleted bait called Rat X that contains mainly salt and corn gluten meal. Can anyone comment on this? Supposedly not toxic to other animals, but I assume if chickens found it, it would kill them as well.
     
    Bamboohens likes this.
  3. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    2,229
    2,119
    246
    Feb 18, 2016
    Missouri
    This site sells RatX as well as many other professional grade products:

    https://www.domyown.com/rat-poisonbait-c-21_133.html

    Reviews on it are generally positive. Seems someone on BYC reported using it about a year ago with mixed results. As I recall, her rats weren't interested in it.

    But there are a lot of variables that go into acceptance, removal of their primary source of food being the main one. If hungry enough, they get less "choicy about their eats" (term used by a farm wife I once met as related to her husband's food preferences).

    BTW, same site also sells Terad3 blocks, which also rates low on the primary and secondary poison concern lists. Primary ingredient in that one is Vitamin D3.
     
    Bamboohens, Jenile Volz and SueT like this.
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    13,030
    11,750
    716
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Any rat poison is POISON, although some may be more survivable than others. I use bait too, carefully, and keep my animals away from it, and the rodents. If traps alone worked, that would be wonderful, but they don't.
    Vitamin D3 is pretty toxic too, hence it's use in bait. Being very careful is the most important thing here. And getting rid of those rats!
    Mary
     
    Bamboohens likes this.
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    18,487
    4,819
    491
    Nov 18, 2007
    Florida
    My Coop
    That is great information. I learned the hard way. I had an infested coop where the rats had got into a ceiling (since removed) and in-between the inner and outer walls between the studs which has also been redone. I originally put some bait in the cavities between the inner and outer part of the wall. The rats ate the baits but they carried some of the bait out of the cavities and some birds got the pieces and died. I was sick. I removed the remaining birds, closed up the coop good and loaded it with the rat baits. I also put baits in the barn which is behind the coops because I had seen some rats in there. Now I use the rat baits in bait boxes where only the rats and mice can get to it. Lesson learned the hard way.
     
    Bamboohens likes this.
  6. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Songster

    1,105
    1,443
    236
    Nov 12, 2017
    Western Ohio
    Experience is always the best teacher, but now you know and have a good procedure to keep the rodent population in check. It’s unfortunate that the birds got some of the poison, and that won’t happen again bc now you know!
     
  7. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    2,229
    2,119
    246
    Feb 18, 2016
    Missouri
    Yes, that would have been a hard lesson to learn.

    If you watch the 3rd video, the one on "rat killing", it clearly shows how the rats carry off the baits. In fact, it even shows the guys intentionally placing baits at the openings to the tunnels, knowing the rats will take them inside to eat, then die in the tunnels. If a person's situation were such that no pets, no kids, no nothing was going to find and eat the baits, that might still be something to employ today. But that might only be 1% of the time. The rest of the time, far better to use secure, tamper proof bait boxes (keeps kids out) and use only the ones that have "pins" inside to hold the bait blocks in place and for that exact reason. Rats will drag any loose baits out into the open and scatter them around for non-targets to find and you really don't want that to happen.

    BTW, don't recall where I saw it......may have been in the first video.......but adult rats......momma of all things........will test new foods out on the kids. Rodent version of "Let Mikey eat it" from the old Life cereal ad. If the kids survive, then the adults may try it. If the kids die, rats will know it was not safe to eat. Better the kids than me???

    They are that good......or bad......depending on your perspective.
     
    Folly's place and Acre4Me like this.
  8. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    18,487
    4,819
    491
    Nov 18, 2007
    Florida
    My Coop
    I thought the rats would eat the baits in the cavities between the studs. One stud was partially chewed through so the rats could pass by the stud.
    This is an old coop. It was the first coop we built. The new wood around the bottom of the coop is what we had to replace. We were stupid and I don't remember why we put a ceiling in the coop where the rats also had nests, since removed, and plywood inner wall, also removed. I took the nest boxes out while we were under reconstruction. I sure many people will find faults with the coop, it was our first. Actually every coop we have built is different in some ways. We started replacing the siding on some of the coops with metal, we put metal roofs on the coops but we also live in Florida. We have more work to do on the coops now that the weather is cooler. Live and learn.
    These are our coops.
    IMG_20180215_180232.jpg
    DSCF0001CoopBarn 07.jpg IMG_20170406_181013.jpg
     
    Acre4Me likes this.
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    13,030
    11,750
    716
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Mine have also changed over time, and experience.
    Mary
     
  10. Suzi18

    Suzi18 Crossing the Road

    3,070
    16,475
    766
    Apr 4, 2017
    Sandusky Ohio
    What happens after the rats eat the bait from the bait box? Do they go back into their nests and die or will I be finding dead rats all over ?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: