Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by greenlydia, Jun 23, 2018.

  1. greenlydia

    greenlydia Chirping

    Jul 30, 2015
    Arlington Washington
    I've raised chickens for about 25 years and have NEVER had a rat problem...….until a year ago. Then I saw one...….then two...…..then 12......then too many to count! To say I was freaked out and disgusted doesn't really cover it! I was also shocked and totally bewildered that after so many years of being "pest" free, virtually overnight the coop was overrun with the things. I immediately began to change my "lax" ways. I bought metal garbage cans and every night put their feeder inside. I put their bags of feed and scratch in cans, too. I stopped throwing scratch and any leftovers and veggies in their yard. (I would give them those things when they were out free ranging and as far from the coop as possible) I did a massive coop clean out and set out rat traps. Four the first night and I had four huge dead rats in the morning. I bought 4 more. Eight dead rats. I took the hose and flooded the hell out of their tunnels...….to watch 20-30 rats scattering out of tunnels I didn't even know were there was like a scene out of a horror movie! I poured gasoline down the holes. I spent a LOT of money on something called the "RATANATOR." A large caged affair that worked on the principle of a Havahart trap and could hold up to 30 rats. It came with a tub that you filled with water and when your trap was full, you just picked it up by the handle and immersed it in the water and walked away for awhile. (I spent the time digging the hole) For 4 nights my cage was stuffed, but on the 5th day, it was empty. My first thought was that I had won! The rats were gone. I was wrong. I DID have far fewer rats, but I STILL had rats. I don't know why they stopped going in. I thought maybe they could "smell" something that told them this was not a good place to go, so I scoured it with bleach and soap and water and tried different kinds of bait...…...in the next week, I had trapped only 2 more. I continued to flood their holes on a daily basis and soon I saw no more rats running out their escape hatches. Then the snap traps were empty. Then I would put food on the ground in the coop and sit in a chair with my .22 and wait. Nothing. NO RATS! My "success" did not happen quickly. From the time I saw that first rat until they were finally gone was 6 months! I have been rat free for almost a year. Until 3 days ago when I saw a rat. This morning I counted 6. I still keep their food locked up. I don't throw food in their coop. Why is this happening again? I understand that rats can smell the urine of other rats and use it like a trail...…..I don't know how to get rid of that. I can't keep the chickens feed locked up during the day, so, yes, there IS food out. My closest neighbor with animals is about 1/2 a mile away, but I doubt that's not too far for hungry rats to travel. I will NOT use poison because I fear for not only the chickens, but my cats and dogs and all the other critters I DON'T want to harm. I know how poison works (at least some of it) and know that rats will desperately seek water. If they are crawling in the open, I don't want a hawk or eagle to snatch it up and take it back to its nest and feed it to its young and possibly kill them. I think the rats are starting to eat eggs. I know that sometimes a hen will squash an egg, but these eggs don't look "squashed," they look like they've been bitten open. I'm terrified if one of my hens goes broody. (Yes, I would remove her and the chicks from the coop) but WHY after 25 years is this happening? And does anybody have a solution for me? PLEASE!!!!! I just can't go through this again but if I can't solve this "invasion," I fear I may have to give up raising chickens which would really make me angry...….and VERY unhappy!
    Farmer Connie likes this.
  2. CCUK

    CCUK Free Flying

    Jan 21, 2018
    North Notts, UK
    My Coop
    It sounds like you have most areas covered! I wouldn't like to say why they have returned but the don't necessarily need food in the conventional sense as they seem to survive on all sorts of rubbish. You said you have cats, how good are they at ratting? We had a jack Russell terrier that lived to rat. It was fantastic but I wouldn't trust it with a yardstick around the chickens. Could you perhaps get a semi feral cat that could patrol your yard?
  3. LittleMissCountry

    LittleMissCountry Songster

    Mar 30, 2018
    I think I would freak out, too. We have two cats, but only one is good at catching anything, and I don't know if he would go after a rat.
    I can't think of anything you haven't already done. Maybe one of the experts can give you some good tips
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Some cats will kill rats, but mine never did. Mice and bunnies, sure. Rats? My problem!
    Howard E has some old films from the Army about rat management, and there's that great program about the New York rats.
    In short, rats are so smart, no trap will get them all. It takes bait, and then the bait needs to be changed out in a week or two also. I've had to use poison twice, carefully, in bait stations. Most of the rodents will return to their nest sites and die there, so most will not be dying out where the chickens, or whoever, can get to them.
    I patrolled daily, and never found a dead/ dying rat. I found a couple of mice, but they were actually in the bait station, or next to it, so the birds couldn't reach them.
    I do like domestic (pet) rats, but not the wild ones that do so well around humans.
    aart likes this.
  5. CCUK

    CCUK Free Flying

    Jan 21, 2018
    North Notts, UK
    My Coop
    Dmontgomery and aart like this.
  6. mowin

    mowin Songster

    Jun 17, 2018
    Upstate NY
    Now that's nasty.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Pretty effective...wonder where it happened and what the story is.
    Were they digging for a project or just to get the rats?
  8. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator

    Aug 16, 2014
    Yorkshire, UK
    My Coop
    It looks like they have moved a commercial chicken unit (they are on wheels) They will have been digging just to get the rats with the dogs. This is the only form of hunting (so to speak) with dogs that you are legally able to do now over here in the UK.
    aart likes this.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ah, thanks!
    I wondered about the building back there.
  10. Howard E

    Howard E Crowing

    Feb 18, 2016
    The rat killing video above is instructive at many levels. The main one being to give some insight into how big of a problem a severe rat infestation is. If you are seeing a lot of rats, you may be sitting on the same thing. Yikes.

    Second thing is that as much fun as that looks like it would be for the dogs and hunters, they still are not getting them all. They are just having some sport at the expense of the rats they do get......and have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to do so.

    This is the thread that features the videos that explain the nature of a severe rat problem and how to go about solving it.


    In most cases, it will require the use of poison bait blocks served up from secure bait stations. OP has valid concerns about secondary poison issues, but research suggests that 99% of that concern is unfounded.

    OP did just about everything right, and still has rats. The last piece of the puzzle they need to consider is the use of poison bait blocks. The videos and links to resources in the thread above explains most of it and the good stuff starts on page 2 of that thread.
    Folly's place and Yorkshire Coop like this.

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