Rats - arrgh

PicklesMom

Songster
Jul 28, 2018
68
106
111
Central MA
Ohhhh goodness I am here for this. We have never had more than maybe one nighttime rat on the compost in 4 years, and in the last two weeks they have exploded! Like 3 rats at a time in the coop during the day. We were feeding duck pellets in bowls free choice but in the process of transitioning them to Mazuri anyway, so we have accelerated it... 3 feedings a day of Mazuri on water, only feed as much as they gobble up, and take out the water at night. By my calculations they should be getting about 6 cups total based on their weight and they take in at least that much.

My question is, is this ok? Especially our Pekins could probably stand to lose a little weight but I don't want my babies to be hungry. When they were out by the pond the other day, away from the rats, I put out bowls of pellets and they didn't seem particularly interested so I suppose they aren't starved.

We're going to meet a barn cat tomorrow and I bought a fancy rat killing device on Amazon but I just cannot have them running freely through my ducky run.

@DukesDucks that pony is just the cutest thing.
 

PicklesMom

Songster
Jul 28, 2018
68
106
111
Central MA
So.... I had a serious rat problem. Basically I stopped feeding them and they left.


We stopped composting kitchen scraps. And I held my ducks bowl while they ate about 4-5 times a day. I picked up any pellets my ducks dropped. For the first 2 days the rats came to eat and I shooed them away. One rat stayed for a week and then left. Now I believe we are rat free!

We still aren't composting or free feeding in case they come back. It has only been about 2 weeks.
This looks like my run a few days ago. <Shudder> You give me hope.
 

KaleIAm

Free Ranging
6 Years
Jul 13, 2015
3,210
9,347
701
Carnation, Wa
This looks like my run a few days ago. <Shudder> You give me hope.
How are things going?

My ducks seem fine without free feeding. I only have two ducks at this point, and I can easily make sure they both get enough food. They both want to eat each time I go out, and when they both walk away, start grooming, or whatever I pick the food up.

My bowls are stackable sloped dog bowls. I just put one bowl on top of the other, and take it off at the next meal time.

If my ducks were afraid of me this probably wouldn't work. The first couple days the rats got really close to me in their desperation and I had to shoo them away from the food bowls. I squatted next to the food bowls at every meal time.

Also, I've started free feeding again and and the end of the day LESS food is gone than when I was feeding them meals!!! I also feed Mazuri Waterfowl, but in bowls because I had a very sad rat drowning incident in a bucket. :( The rats used to perch on the edge of the water buckets and reach out with their hands.
 

PicklesMom

Songster
Jul 28, 2018
68
106
111
Central MA
How are things going?

My ducks seem fine without free feeding. I only have two ducks at this point, and I can easily make sure they both get enough food. They both want to eat each time I go out, and when they both walk away, start grooming, or whatever I pick the food up.

My bowls are stackable sloped dog bowls. I just put one bowl on top of the other, and take it off at the next meal time.

If my ducks were afraid of me this probably wouldn't work. The first couple days the rats got really close to me in their desperation and I had to shoo them away from the food bowls. I squatted next to the food bowls at every meal time.

Also, I've started free feeding again and and the end of the day LESS food is gone than when I was feeding them meals!!! I also feed Mazuri Waterfowl, but in bowls because I had a very sad rat drowning incident in a bucket. :( The rats used to perch on the edge of the water buckets and reach out with their hands.
Thanks for asking. I think it's ok for the moment. I sprayed down the stone walls near our basement and the perimeter of the run with this spray, which seemed to convince them the walls are not a great place to live, but not enough to keep them from running into the run when I set a food bowl down and walk away, so we are not doing that. I do growl at the rats and wave my arms or a broom as I chase them, luckily we don't have neighbors nearby. I do think we were feeding a tremendous amount of food to rats now that I see what the ducks are eating. Luckily the weather was nice and we were home all weekend so the ducks could be out in the yard and have lots of feedings and even a bowl out while foraging. It may get tricky to keep up with enough feedings as the days get shorter and I'm working more.

We have a fancy CO2 powered rat killing device coming as well, and I just found rat birth control to order as well. I honestly hate to kill anything I don't have to, so I am taking the rather puny approach of mint and contraceptives and hoping they just move away, but will put out the trap if needed, which seems rather quick and humane if they have to die.
 

Beth42

Chirping
Jul 28, 2020
65
62
71
Cornwall, UK
I had my first rat problem last year during lockdown. Think it was due to all the village restaurants being shut so they had to search a little further afield for scraps.
Tried everything to discourage them, but in the end went for a bait box. It took a few weeks, but did the trick and haven’t seen them since.
My neighbour has now borrowed the bait box as she has an infestation. After a few days, she has noticed a difference.
Where there is one rat, there could be a thousand…..
 

KaleIAm

Free Ranging
6 Years
Jul 13, 2015
3,210
9,347
701
Carnation, Wa
Thanks for asking. I think it's ok for the moment. I sprayed down the stone walls near our basement and the perimeter of the run with this spray, which seemed to convince them the walls are not a great place to live, but not enough to keep them from running into the run when I set a food bowl down and walk away, so we are not doing that. I do growl at the rats and wave my arms or a broom as I chase them, luckily we don't have neighbors nearby. I do think we were feeding a tremendous amount of food to rats now that I see what the ducks are eating. Luckily the weather was nice and we were home all weekend so the ducks could be out in the yard and have lots of feedings and even a bowl out while foraging. It may get tricky to keep up with enough feedings as the days get shorter and I'm working more.

We have a fancy CO2 powered rat killing device coming as well, and I just found rat birth control to order as well. I honestly hate to kill anything I don't have to, so I am taking the rather puny approach of mint and contraceptives and hoping they just move away, but will put out the trap if needed, which seems rather quick and humane if they have to die.
Rat birth control?! This is brilliant. I think I'll get some, thank you so much for the link. I actually don't mind a few rats. It's swarms of rats coming from every direction at the sound of me filling the bowl. At some point it seems dangerous for my ducks...
 

DukesDucks

Crowing
Oct 6, 2019
782
2,619
286
Eastern Ontario, Canada
I haven't caught any rats yet but a friend, who is an exterminator, says to be patient. It is frustrating to see no new holes for a few days and get tricked into thinking they are gone. More frustrating is seeing my big ducks standing around watching a rat eat out of their feeder.
I'm going to see if I can get the rat birth control in Canada. Wonder if it works on chipmunks. Now I like chipmunks but there are way too many of them here so the cuteness factor is wearing a little thin.
 

Twhi7

Chirping
Feb 9, 2021
66
105
93
I even bought a small live trap. Haven't caught a rat yet but did catch what I think is the same chipmunk 3 times. It actually looked quite content, safely eating away.
Not sure if you do this already, but with my live trap I make sure and prop the door open (I use a zip tie) so rats can go in and out and eat bait freely for the first few days before actually setting (I personally leave it open for a full week). Since rats are naturally leary of new/unfamiliar items, this helps them get comfortable with it. I bait with duck food, dog food, rabbit food and some bird seed and that seems to do the trick. It’s also very important to cut off their food source elsewhere because if they have access to food in a more familiar area they’ll likely go to that and avoid the trap. Another thing that helps is placing the trap in a somewhat hidden area where they feel safe or create some clutter in the area around the trap.

You might already do all these things but just thought I’d share what helped in my experience! I have caught at LEAST one each time I set it and up to 7 at a time so far (I use the ratinator from tractor supply). Good luck!
 
May 13, 2018
1,066
3,439
436
Vermont
Following as the duck food bowl has been suspiciously empty every time I’ve checked on it over the past few days 🤔

I know the barn has mice and resident chipmunks, but appears things are sliding out of control with the colder weather.

I always encourage my cats to spend time in the barn, and the neighbor’s cat is now considered family as he enjoys hunting in the barn also. I refuse to use poison because of of this.

The most success we had was when my husband accidentally left a large bucket with water in it overnight. An entire mouse family decided to go for an ill-fated swim. I won’t allow that to happen again as it has to be a horrible way for them to go.

I’ve always free-fed as my work hours are long and unpredictable and we wouldn’t be able to stick to a regular feeding schedule. However, this does sound like the only option. That and making sure that neighbor kitty feels welcome to enjoy the all-he-can-eat buffet!
 

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