Rats in chicken pen!!!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Roy Rooster, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi All,

    The other day when I was cleaning out the chicken pen I found a rat burrow. Upon destroying it an adult (large) rat ran out
    and curried out of the pen. I have never seen a rat before (outside of pet stores) and am not sure what to do.

    I am picking up a rat trap today from the store and setting it in hopes to catch the thing.

    What I am worried about is the health of my birds. What do I need to do?

    If there is one thing I associate with rats its the bubonic plague, can chickens catch this and transmit it to me?

    Any experience with rats will be helpful, thank you so much.
     
  2. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

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    First I'll state the obvious and tell you to do a thorough cleaning of the coop and run (removed all bedding materials and replace with new). Locate any holes where mice or rats (or any other small enough creature for that matter) can get in from and seal it up.

    Next remove any spilled food (if not already done from cleaning). Do not keep food in the coop as it will attract rodents. If you do, then make sure that it is available from hanging feeders that the rodents can't get to. But any spilled feed can attract pests. That's why I find it better to keep food out of the coop and have it hanging in the run instead (same goes for water). If you are unable to hang the feeders then you may have to remove the feed at night and replace it each morning.

    Frankly I'm surprised your chickens didn't try and kill it. I wouldn't worry about plague. Rats are more common than you think. If it weren't for my cats I probably would never realize how many I have living in my pasture. Yes they are nasty and it's best to do what you can to avoid attracting them to your coop or near your home. But I really wouldn't worry, just take preventative measures.

    This article from the BYC Learning Center will also help
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/rat-chicken-pests-how-to-protect-your-chickens-from-rats
     
  3. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your post. I do keep the feeders in the pen, hanging as you mentioned. I think that rat was after the feed that the chickens spill or drop during the day. We had lots of rain here the past few days, so after it stopped I went out and scooped all the mud
    out of the pen. It was then that I noticed an hallow tube under the dirt floor in the pen. I stabbed at it, broke it open and our ran this
    huge rat!!! never have seen a rat before so I was most definitely startled by its presence. I cleaned out the pen, scooped all the dirt where I found the rat out. I will change the bedding in the coop as soon as I can. I do not see any signs of rat droppings in the coop so far. I don't think it would stay in the coop with all the girls in there. Does not seem like place that would be safe for rat.

    I plan to set a trap tonight to see if I can catch it. I take good care of my girls so to see a rat in their pen was not something I would expect. But like you said, they are everywhere, we live in the country so I am sure they are around more that I think.

    Here is a pic of my set up if it helps to illustrate how I have their housing arranged.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    2 people like this.
  4. animalgrl

    animalgrl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm having the same issue with rats getting into my run. Based on the droppings found in our shed, they have been around awhile, but I just never saw them until we got the chickens. I have my food in the run, not the coop, and I bring it in every night, but the little buggers still keep getting into the run (And if my girls are spilling food, it isn't much because I look for it and don't find any to clean up). I put traps out in the run at night (chickens locked up so can't get near them) for a few weeks (get multiple traps. I read somewhere that 12 traps for a minor infestation is not excessive) and caught 6 rats. Haven't caught any in the last few weeks because now all that are left are the smart rats that know how to avoid the traps. I rent and am not going to trench and bury wire, but I did put 12 inch pavers up against the fence all the way around my run. The rats are smarter than me, though, and they somehow are finding a way to burrow in the miniscule space between the pavers and the run fence and still tunnel under the fence. I went out and bought more hardware cloth and this weekend I will put down a curtain of hardware cloth from the bottom of the fence extending out one foot from the run and hold the edge down with the aforementioned 12 inch pavers. If this doesn't keep them out of the run, I don't know what I'm going to do. At least I got rid of enough of them that I don't hear them rustling all around in the leaves and behind the fence when I go out to lock the girls up at night (right now it's already dark when I get home from work). That really creeped me out - made me think the evil little things were watching me, just waiting for a chance to attack! LOL!

    Also, don't know about where you live, but I randomly met someone from our county's vector control office and asked him about this - he told me to call for an appointment and they will come out and inspect the property and give me a report with suggestions for things I can improve/do to discourage the rats from living in my yard. And in my county, this service is apparently free (Yay tax dollars!). Haven't done it yet, but I plan to set up an appointment after the holidays.
     
  5. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry you are having the same issues I am. they are a pain. I like you hang my feed in the pen not the coop. I take the food up at night so they are after the food that the girls spill. It is very frustrating. I just don't want the girls or I to get sick. All i know about rats is the bubonic plague, at least that is what I associate with them. Never had a rat problem before so this really flakes me out. I am going to set traps tonight, I hope I catch a few rats.
     
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm dealing with a rat visitation too, and don't love it! They are very smart and difficult to trap. I've got Broudificon bait in the tunnel, and a couple of places where no chickens can reach, and am inspecting daily. UGH! Mary
     
  7. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi All, I have set traps tonight in hopes of catching this rat!! if I do catch it how should I sanitize the pen for the girls?
    I know that rats can carry some terrible diseases and I don't want any of my girls to get sick. I am not sure if bleach in the pen
    is a good idea or what.

    Ideas for a good clean up would be appreciated.

    Also, I am pretty sure that they are only in the pen, do I need to change the bedding in the coop too? Or can i just let that go for now?

    Thanks in advance
     
  8. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How much should I worry about diseases from the rats? Either giving diseases to my girls or me? Just asking, I tend to worry about that.
    If anyone has some information that would be great. Thanks.
     
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Rats can carry Leptospirosis, but so does other wildlife. Plague is a problem in the western states, not Tennessee. I just plan to clean out and rebed my coop, which is due to be done anyway; I'm not going to bleach it out. Mice and rats will appear sometimes, and need to be eliminated as much as possible. The chickens will help in daytime, but not at night. I've got a coop foundation issue that will be fixed ASAP. Mary
     
  10. Roy Rooster

    Roy Rooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yikes!! Leptospirosis, I get so nervous when it comes to diseases, I guess you could say that are phobia of mine. Do you by any change know how
    common it is and what symptoms would look like in chickens? Too boot, I have a sick rooster, no avian vet around here to see him either. I am worried
    that maybe he could have gotten something from the rats. They have been around a little bit, I finally found them the other day. I think they could
    have been around about a month or so.
     

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