Poison is the easiest way. Don't use those old fashion traps the snap on their head they don't always work, normally you just end up feeding the rats. The newer traps that are enclosed so you don't have to see the rat apparently work real well but they are kind of expensive.
You could get guineas if you live out in the country they can help keep the pests away, or at least that's what I hear. We are going to get some next year or sooner if I can find some hatching eggs.
Live traps work, but then you have to kill them (it's illegal to move them and release them elsewhere). Someone told me you can get a bucket of water and float sunflower seed on the top, put a ramp up to the top of the bucket so the rats can get up there, but then they fall in the water and can't get out (we've had a few young ones drown in our pigs water dish so I imagine this would work). Just make sure the water isn't close to the top of the bucket where they could pull themselves out.
Hello, I recently discovered we have this problem too. Tried baited snap traps and glue boards to no avail. Finally decided to pony up the cash and have a pro deal with it bc I live in quasi-suburbia (a little town in the middle of farm country). So, out came the Orkin Man last Friday, he suggested using the snap traps strategically placed along our fences, OR, he suggested I gas them with car exhaust while they are asleep during the day. Poison was not recommended bc of where we live and that we have outdoor pets who might get secondary poisoning if the rats move the bait.
Sooooo...I took our portable generator and set it up close to the burrow exit, then blocked the other two exits really well. Then I put a long 1.5" diameter hose that we use for cleaning our pond down the burrow as far as it would go, and then blocked up the rest of the exit by filling the dirt in and weighting it with stones.
I then started up the generator, and held the hose to the exhaust for about 15 minutes to make sure plenty of carbon monoxide got down there, and voila....no more rat activity since Friday. No new burrows, no damage to my coop, no stolen eggs.
I left the hose in place so any rat that wanted out had to crawl through it and then meet a trash can full of snap traps at his exit, but there has been no activity in the can at all. So I am assuming they are dead in the burrow. Just to make sure, we are leaving the hose in place til tomorrow, and then going to flood out the burrow.
If you have a big infestation, this may not work for you, but it seems to have worked for us so far.
Best of luck!
P.s. it also is supposed to work if you use car exhaust
Ullie - Yes, we saw the first burrow hole when our dachshunds started trying to dig it out at the end of October. Originally we thought it was a shrew or vole that had burrowed behind the rock wall at the back of the pond (no big deal), then we noticed a big hole leading into the run, and then another one about a foot from the edge of the pond. Thats when we figured out it was rats...too big for a mouse, too small for a groundhog/gopher. Orkin guy estimated 2-6 rats living in the area.
Our coop is nestled very close to the back of our pond, and I guess the rats figured water + chicken feed + loose garden soil = happy rat winter home. No mas!
I actually googled "gassing rats" before I did it and found a cool old article from the 30's about some folks hooking up an old Model-T exhaust and clearing out a barn using the same trick.
DISCLAIMER: This method of pest control is DANGEROUS! Try this method of rodent eradication at your own risk, I am not a pest control expert, nor do I have any training in killing vermin. Do your own research before trying this method because if you do it wrong, it WILL KILL YOU! Do not, under any circumstance, operate an internal combustion engine or any other carbon monoxide producing apparatus indoors, in an enclosed area, or anywhere where there is not adequate ventilation. Carbon Monoxide is a highly toxic gas and WILL KILL YOU if inhaled in sufficient quantities. I will not be held liable for anyone doing anything stupid and hurting themselves or others.
That being said, best of luck killing your coop rats!