Rats! I have rats.

rehsanipoor

Chirping
Jan 29, 2018
94
78
76
Baltimore, MD
So we've been struggling with rats lately. We tried live trapping, laid TONS of hardware cloth and more. We've had an exterminator out who put poison outside of the chicken's access and only found one dead baby rat. Please don't send me anti-poison msgs. I have young kids playing in the yard and cannot risk fooling around with the diseases that rats carry. The coop and run are against our house and I've heard about the damage that rats can cause.

Our current approach is as follows:
I have a hanging metal feeder (which the rats jump up onto... and eat while enjoying a spin ride). If I hang it higher the chickens will not be able to reach.
It's this one:
The chickens make a mess of food beneath where it is hung. So each night I remove the feeder and hose off the area where the spillage is. After the chickens are locked up, I place a board with screwed in poison bricks. This is the third night I've put it out and the rats so far haven't touched it. I remove the poison in the AM before letting the chickens out.

During the day the rats come out and eat what falls while the chickens are RIGHT there! My chickens are apparently pacifists because they are happy to live with rats weaving around their feet... even baby rats!

I've read that I can try wetting their food to prevent spillage. Does anyone know if this works? I really don't want the hassle of fermenting food. Is there a feeder or system that prevents spillage so that during the day there is less for the rats to get?

Help!!
 

SniperGoose

Crowing
Apr 15, 2018
302
1,134
257
Central Pennsylvania
I agree with using poison for rats. If you're seeing them during the daytime, that means you have A LOT of rats. Using a bait box with poison blocks in it would be most effective. Rats are very smart and won't touch something new right away. So they may take a few days to take a bite of any poison.
As for the food, try a rodent-proof hanging feeder. That way they can't get in your feeder(s). If you're worried about any other animals getting ahold of any dead rats, maybe try this poison, as it has low secondary poisoning for other animals:
https://www.domyown.com/terad3-blox-p-1283.html

It would also be a good idea to patch up any rat holes in your coop with sheet metal. I'm currently almost done getting rid of rats in my coop. It can be quite a battle! Good luck!
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,004
17,129
817
Western Ohio
Good luck to you. Rodents around /in your house are bad news so be ruthless. No judgement on using rat bait/poison bc you are right that you don’t want them around your home/kids.

We feed wet food: put in container and add water, stir, wait 5-10 min. Add more water to make like a very thick pancake batter. No fermentation. You might try to elevate it to reduce rat access. Take away at night. Others on here have had to deal with rats so they may have dry feed ideas that are difficult for ears to access while chickens can access.

Do you know when the rat issue started, or is there a place they are coming from ( like a neighbor)?
 

rehsanipoor

Chirping
Jan 29, 2018
94
78
76
Baltimore, MD
Thanks for all the advice. I will try wetting the food and look into a new rodent proof feeder. @oldhenlikesdogs I have a bait station that came with the bricks I bought. I just wasn't sure where to put it. It's this one:

Is it safe to put in the same area as the chickens? The box says "dog" proof.
@Acre4Me I'm not exactly sure when they arrived. We started seeing one around 6 weeks ago, but now we are seeing babies. We have worked a lot on covering holes and tunnels but it's a "whack-a-mole" situation and every time I think I've taken care of it they find a new way in.

Not sure I have the stomach for it, but I've begun to consider purchasing a bee bee gun... a new hobby???
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,004
17,129
817
Western Ohio
You are a good candidate for watching the old army videos of getting rid of rats. I think @Howard E is the one who has the link.

Did the exterminator tell you much in terms of where their home/nest was, or if he thought your environment was the source (woods, old buildings, hoarding neighbor)? I would also be concerned if they were tunneling next to your home’s foundation, but would guess exterminator would have noticed that.

Better ways to spend your time than a BB gun. Won’t make much of a dent but might make you feel better.

Search on BYC for threads on rats. Lots of good info and many responses from others that have battled rat infestations.

Another option could be to temporarily relocate your chickens to get a good handle on the rat infestation without having to work around them, especially since they are up against your home. But you may not have that option and might result in sick birds from exposure to new environment. So, my first choice there would be to locate them where there are not currently chickens or where they could be completely separate from any chickens currently there.

Good luck to you for getting rid of those nasty creatures.
 

Howard E

Crowing
5 Years
Feb 18, 2016
2,881
3,918
296
Missouri
This the thread you are looking for.....

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/rats-when-the-army-went-to-war-on-them.1216226/page-2

......which also links to a thread which reviews a rat proof feeder. The latter is what will enable you to feed your birds, yet not feed the rats. Starving them into hunger is step one towards getting them to accept the bait. I have and use one of those feeders and it works as advertised....IF, and that is a BIG IF.......you install it correctly. Birds will use it and rats and mice can't.

Second question, which is also addressed in the thread via videos and other links, is how to rat proof your house and coop. Limit access and limit food and you are on your way to getting rid of your rat problem.

You have already overcome your biggest hurdle and that is a willingness to accept the use of bait blocks.
 

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