Rat problem

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by drjulian, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. drjulian

    drjulian Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2014
    Quack Shack

    My 6 chickens and 5 ducks share a 30' x 50' covered run with a large coop at one end and a small pond on the other. We have a barn cat, but he is not allowed in the run (he once got in and killed a full grown hen). He has driven the rats out of the barn...and into the chicken coop. The rats have driven the chickens and ducks out of the nesting box and most of them have stopped laying or lay in the run.

    Although I cover the food each night, there is enough scratched and spilled out to keep the rats fat and happy.

    In an attempt to control the rats I have set electronic traps which have proved to be pretty much useless, so I resorted to setting 10 snap traps in the coop each night. I have to close everyone out of the coop so they will not get caught in the traps. That is how I got the male, but the female is just too clever, and now she has had babies. (I have a night vision ip camera in the coop so I can actually watch the little buggers at night see below.) Also, any bait (peanut butter, horse feed, peaches, cat food, parsley, limburger cheese etc) I use in the traps is usually overrun by ants by morning so now I have an ant problem to deal with as well.

    This is just not working

    So my next thought was to get a treadle feeder and see if that works. They advertise them as limiting spilled feed. No food...no rats...maybe.

    But I have to consider the pekin ducks as well.

    So my question is does anyone have any experience with the Feed-O-Matic feeder https://youtu.be/MxSAFVOInqs (or any treadle feeder) and ducks? I can find no information on using a treadle feeder with ducks.

    More to the point, if anyone has a better way to eliminate rats, PLEASE let me know.

    I am resisting the urge to buy a night vision scope for my pellet gun and sitting in the coop all night. I think that might be too extreme.

    Night vision screenshot of Rat laughing at my traps.
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Rats are very smart, and will avoid traps of any sort after one of the group is caught. Also, if rats can get into your coop, so can weasels! Find and fix their entry points. Then, poison is your best option, sad to say. I've had to use poison twice here, and actually never found bodies anywhere, as the critters died in their burrows. Broudificon is much safer than bromotheilin or other such products! I locked up my barn cat and made sure the birds couldn't get to the bait. When I found the burrows into the coop, I inserted bait blocks and closed them in. Checked daily, and added more bait until non was missing. Then, I closed the tunnel openings permanently. Not fun, but necessary; rats and mice aren't good to have up close! My barn cat considered adult rats my problem anyway. Mary
  3. Morrigan

    Morrigan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2014
    I agree, the best way to get rid of rats is to find how how they are getting into the coop and then seal up the entry way -- or seal up where they are nesting during the day. We had a very wily rat that eluded all of our attempts to trap it and was starting to attack the chickens. One night we watched and saw where it had built a nest inside the wall and then sealed up the hole. It was a bit sad, really, as the rat was trapped and starved to death, but it was better than waking up to find chicks with rat bites on them.
  4. drjulian

    drjulian Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2014
    Quack Shack
    Thank you for your reply.

    Yes, I am learning how they survived for thousands of years.

    I know where they are coming in from...the front door (I have seen them)! The coop is very secure even with a foundation so when it is closed, there is nowhere they could get in, and, until now we never had a rat problem in the coop. What happened was that I had to leave town for a few days a few months ago, and decided to leave the coop open rather then lock them all up for several days. The affect of that was that the ducks discovered they could stay in the pond all night. Now, unable to get them in the coop at night any more, I am "forced" to leave the door open all night. This is when the rat problem began. Our cat is really a pretty good hunter. Since we got him we have gone from serious infestation to not a one in the barn. We also have seen few if any rabbits and squirrels. He does like to hunt. And if he were allowed in the chicken run, I would not be writing this. The coop is 10 feet from the barn separated by a fence, and I have seen him sitting on the fence post watching the coop at night. I suspect he hears, smells or sees the rats.

    Anyway, poison is not really an option. Our place is a working ranch with many different animals wandering around and the chance of one of them getting poisoned is just too great to risk it.

    The clear solution is to get rid of this one rat and her kids that have moved into the coop, then retrain the ducks to come in at night and start closing them in again.

    Toward that end, I will still have to exclude everyone from the coop at night until I resolve this. The feeder may be a good start if the ducks will eat from it.

    I may have to get that night vision scope after all.....
  5. eagrbeavr

    eagrbeavr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Raticator! Look it up and you'll see a great review from a guy who's been living off grid for decades. He's also a master trapper. He explains all the rookie mistakes we make and how we educate them. Look it up. Seriously. And good luck
  6. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

    Nov 30, 2014
    Middle Tennessee

    Lock the cat inside the coop at night... that way it can't get your birds and the rats won't be laughing at it...
  7. drjulian

    drjulian Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2014
    Quack Shack

    Thank you for your replies.

    Actually I have 5 electronic rat traps in the coop and none of them have caught a single rat! The snap traps were also mostly ineffective.

    I did resolve the problem the old fashioned way:

    I dressed up like a chicken [​IMG] and crouched down in the coop at night with my pellet gun and a flashlight. I was able to dispatch the remaining rats. Overall the total was a large male, a large female and six young ones. Fortunately that represented the whole population and have not seen a single rat since then and it has been over for a week. The entire time I was 'hunting' our cat was sitting outside the coop watching so I gave him the dead rats to encourage him to monitor the area outside the coop at night. He gobbled them up and slept on the ground outside the coop so maybe he got the idea.

    Now if the girls would only realize that their nesting box is safe once again and start laying there, everything will be back to normal.
  8. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    I've had good luck with glue traps baited with chicken pellets.

    BUT, I have a "human side" to my coop so I can set traps where the birds can't get to them.

    Got three last week, and it appears traffic has stopped.
  9. Cacique500

    Cacique500 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 2, 2013
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I had a rat problem while I was building the new coop - amazing how they can get though the smallest cracks. I tried just about everything and ended up using poison (bait and lead [​IMG]). I know that got a few of them with the poison bait since they were found dead in the neighbors yard. I used this: https://www.amazon.com/Eaton-902R-L...8&qid=1478876354&sr=8-5&keywords=jt+eaton+rat It holds the bait inside where nothing else can get to it.

    The last two rats were driving me nuts...just couldn't get them. Finally one night I saw them on my coop camera and quietly went out with a Ruger MkII and some CCI shot shells. That did the trick...got one at 18 feet and the other one was about 10...fast little critters but they couldn't outrun the shot. I've been rat free ever since.


    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by