Rats!!!!

Ellieschickies

Chirping
Jun 16, 2019
68
42
71
My chickens were making a lot of noise freaking out in their run about an hour ago and when I went out to check I saw a rat run away down the outside of the run. It’s been an hour and they are still unsettled and not wanting to go up to bed. Has anyone else had this problem and do you think this will be the case every time they see a rat?
 

QuailFreak

In the Brooder
Aug 13, 2019
18
14
27
SC
I have had this problem. I used to own a wooden coop that wasn’t very sturdy, and rats were able to squeeze through the wire. I even had a possum get one of my chickens in the past. Unfortunately there was not much I could do, I tried traps but my young chicks got caught in them. Could you send pictures of your coop/where you think the rats are getting through?
 

Ellieschickies

Chirping
Jun 16, 2019
68
42
71
I have had this problem. I used to own a wooden coop that wasn’t very sturdy, and rats were able to squeeze through the wire. I even had a possum get one of my chickens in the past. Unfortunately there was not much I could do, I tried traps but my young chicks got caught in them. Could you send pictures of your coop/where you think the rats are getting through?

Thank you for your reply. I thought I had escaped them think now. I haven’t seen one before or heard the chickens make noise like that. It was in the outside of the run just next to it when I saw it so not sure if it has got in yet. I had a walk around the outside and couldn’t see any holes it has got through but who knows. I’ll gave keep a look out
 

IamRainey

Crowing
Aug 22, 2017
2,849
11,746
496
Los Angeles (Woodland Hills); gardening zone 9B
Rats are more active at night when the chickens are in the roost. That's the time to set traps in the run. Of course you'll need to remove the traps before the hens wake and move out to the run.

About the time the hens move up to the coop it's time to go out and remove every trace of food you can find. All the pumpkin or watermelon rinds. All the corn cobs, etc. The feed, above all. Don't leave the rats with anything but what your traps are bated with.

Red lights are helpful for observing their activity for several nights so you can see where the traps are best set. And, if possible, where they enter and leave.

Examine every square inch of your coop and run and stuff steel wool into any voids they can squeeze through. Make sure they're not burrowing under your structure anyplace. If that's where they're getting in you've got to set up a secure perimeter with a dig-proof apron. I used 12" concrete pavers AND I have my hardware cloth dug in 12" as well.

Plan a couple weeks of making all this your highest priority. And when they're gone set up a perimeter of big nasty traps on your outside perimeter. But, before you do, make sure you show any kids or visiting grandkids what kind of snap they're in for if they go near a trap so they have a very healthy respect for them and keep clear of them. My dog has never disturbed a trap. I don't know if I'm just lucky but then he doesn't go into the chicken yard unless it's with me or my husband.

I also resorted to a pellet gun. I don't know if I ever hit one but I harassed them mercilessly.

Rats are smart. If you remove their access to food and make the area hazardous they'll get it and move on to easier pickings. My compost piles are next to my chicken coop. I'm sure they discovered more secure food sources there and less risk. I'm good with them being where they don't cause any harm. But get on it and don't let them get out of hand or you're sunk.
 

Ellieschickies

Chirping
Jun 16, 2019
68
42
71
Rats are more active at night when the chickens are in the roost. That's the time to set traps in the run. Of course you'll need to remove the traps before the hens wake and move out to the run.

About the time the hens move up to the coop it's time to go out and remove every trace of food you can find. All the pumpkin or watermelon rinds. All the corn cobs, etc. The feed, above all. Don't leave the rats with anything but what your traps are bated with.

Red lights are helpful for observing their activity for several nights so you can see where the traps are best set. And, if possible, where they enter and leave.

Examine every square inch of your coop and run and stuff steel wool into any voids they can squeeze through. Make sure they're not burrowing under your structure anyplace. If that's where they're getting in you've got to set up a secure perimeter with a dig-proof apron. I used 12" concrete pavers AND I have my hardware cloth dug in 12" as well.

Plan a couple weeks of making all this your highest priority. And when they're gone set up a perimeter of big nasty traps on your outside perimeter. But, before you do, make sure you show any kids or visiting grandkids what kind of snap they're in for if they go near a trap so they have a very healthy respect for them and keep clear of them. My dog has never disturbed a trap. I don't know if I'm just lucky but then he doesn't go into the chicken yard unless it's with me or my husband.

I also resorted to a pellet gun. I don't know if I ever hit one but I harassed them mercilessly.

Rats are smart. If you remove their access to food and make the area hazardous they'll get it and move on to easier pickings. My compost piles are next to my chicken coop. I'm sure they discovered more secure food sources there and less risk. I'm good with them being where they don't cause any harm. But get on it and don't let them get out of hand or you're sunk.

Oh gosh this is my first year of having chickens so have never experienced it before. Will have to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. After tonight’s drama the chickens ended up knocking some of their food pellets in to the grass and as much as I have tired I can’t get it all up so no doubt that will attract the rats back tonight :(
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,063
33,493
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
I've accidentally flushed out a rat in the run during daylight and the rat ran around panicking and so did the hens. Not a fun thing to deal with! For this reason I now mainly feed inside the coop, so any mess is contained inside, and I remove all feeders at night.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,496
39,366
1,106
southern Michigan
Rats will kill chickens, eat eggs, and spread nasty diseases. And they are very smart, and reproduce at an amazing rate.
You will need to make your coop rat proof ASAP; no openings larger than 1/2" diameter, and as dig proof as possible. Only a concrete floor is totally secure, but that won't happen in one day, but do your best.
Traps may get an occasional rat, but never all of them. Only poison in secure bait stations is effective. Most rodents will return to their burrows to die, which limits the risk in using bait. It's just one of those miserable situations where bait is often the only solution...
Mary
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,839
21,952
907
Southeast Louisiana
Not sure where you are located so I don't now your time zone. You can see rats or mice any time of the day or night. From your message I'd guess UK or Europe. Rats live anywhere humans do, city or country. Just because you saw one does not mean it is getting in your coop or run. But they are attracted to feed. And they are more active at night.

Rats can be considered predators. They can eat eggs or young chicks. They can also attack grown chickens but that is fairly rare. The biggest danger time for grown chickens is at night when they are on the roost. But usually they go for the feed, not the chickens. I don't leave eggs in the coop overnight.

Chickens can be unsettled by anything strange. I can carry a feed bucket ad they are fine but if I have a small camera or some tool like a hammer they really get agitated. If mine see a strange animal like a rat or fox outside the coop they get agitated but tend to get over this type of thing fairly quickly once the cause goes away. The way yours were avoiding the coop it sounds like the rat may have been inside it before you saw it. I've seen that behavior when a large rat snake was in the coop itself.

I don't think you will ever totally eliminate mice or rats. They are just in the environment where humans are. I constantly trap mice and feed them whole to my chickens. And I often trap rats. Even though I can't eliminate them I try to keep the numbers under control. I only resort to poison when the numbers get ridiculous. Like Mary said, it is a last resort.

You can help if you keep the area clean. That means do not have trash or anything the rats can hid in or nest in around the coop. Keep weeds, grass, and brush cleaned up. If they can't hide from predators they don't hang around. If they can build a nest the numbers can explode. I also leave all non-poisonous/non-venomous snakes alone unless they are in the coop eating eggs or baby chicks. Rat snakes are called rat snakes for a reason.
 

MANNA-PRO

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