We have had a bumper crop of rats this summer and now that it is getting colder they want to move indoors. My chickens free-range all day so their coop/run is open for visitors. I first noticed fleas in the nest boxes. I would pick a warm egg up and see the fleas crawling where the egg had been. HUGE UGH FACTOR. Cleaned out the coop and Sevin dusted, DE in the nest boxes. Seemed to improve. Then I started to see rat poop in their feeder. Then I found a drowned rat in the water bucket inside the coop. Then I was cleaning out the bedding again and noticed that an empty feed bag had fallen down behind the feed bin. So I reached down to lift it out of there and three rats came scurrying out. SHRIEK AND FLAIL. The rats had filled the bag with feathers from the moulting hens. O.K. This means war. I told my BIL about it and he went and put poison pellets under the coop where chickens can't reach. Every day for five days the rats cleaned up every bit. WRINGS HANDS WITH GLEE. Eight packages of rat poison. Finally no more rat poop in feeders and no visitors seen. WHEW. Yesterday, I went to check for eggs and opened up the lid on the nest boxes, one hen sitting like a broody, all flattened out and growling at me. So I reach under and pull out two eggs, feel around her and find two more. Hands are full so I take them to the egg keeper and go back to see if she has more under her. She's still growling at me and acting broody so I just lift her up to get her out of the way and lo and behold ... A HUGE DEAD RAT ... she was laying on the darn thing and the other three hens that had laid eggs that day had also chosen the dead rat as the ideal spot to lay their eggs. Out of nine available spots they all chose the dead rat. CHICKENS ARE DISGUSTING AND RATS ARE TOO. But I still love my chooks.