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! PLEASE HELP ME IF YOU CAN! THANK YOU SO MUCH.