Rodent Population Explosion

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by centrarchid, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I have owls come in every night and even land on my skimpy pens stirring up my birds. The owls (Great-horned and Barred coming in on different nights) are not going after chickens at all. They are going after the voles and mice that are everywhere even in broad daylight. It is like a plague. When the last snow came down the rodents keep some areas snow free from all the traffic. Chickens are eating some but do not appear to put a dent in them. Among natural predators, only the owls can come in to get rodents as they can make a catch and get out before dogs ruin their hunt.
     
  2. Kikiriki

    Kikiriki Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They cleared some woods near us, and the rats started looking for new homes...shiver....I hate rats!

    The only things that worked were a rat snake who moved in (stole eggs once the rats were gone)

    Sticky glue traps which require you kill the rodent because they don't always die (...more shivering...)

    A baited rat bucket: any can deep enough to hold water to half full yet and not allow a large rodent to touch the bottom; punch holes near the top edge straight across center from one another. Next, a smooth round bottle gets holes punched in top and bottom, centered so the container will be level while lying on the side. (A big round pill bottle, or 1pint milk bottle works). A wire hanger is straightened out and put through the holes. The bottle should spin freely. The wire should be long enough reach across the bucket, go through the holes, and have enough left to bend the ends down to hold it in place. Before you secure it, though, center the pill bottle over the bucket and kink the wire hanger on each side so it cannot slide along the wire, the secure the wire to the bucket. Put peanut butter only on the very center of the pill bottle in a thin line all the way around. Arrange a board so the rodents can barely get to the pill bottle. They should have to commit to the step. When they do, the pill bottle spins and they fall in the water and drown.

    You can also put hay/straw in a bucket of water with feed sprinkled on top. It appears like a solid surface, but the rodents are heavy enough to drown.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Snakes are already in hibernation and my dogs put a major dent in those not small enough for the chickens to consume. I do not think the snakes are actually good regulators of rodents anyway. The hawks, coyotes and foxes my dogs exclude normally do that as a collective effort. Some of the free-range chickens are killing the voles but consuming only the meat of the neck and upper torso. Typically they consume the entire critter whole.

    I just came back from sitting in the fields adjacent to the relatively predator-free cockyard. Rodent abundance there is also very high. There is no way the ground will be able to support all of those rodents through winter. This is not something I have seen here before. Additionally I can find piles of grain stashed under boards and waterers near pens. The rodents seem partial to millet of the scratch greens.
     
  4. gawildlife

    gawildlife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It would take an extremely large population of snakes to just control much less eradicate a large rodent population. Snake and rodents have evolved a mutually beneficial coexistence. The snakes have a slow metabolism and one require an every so often meal, many go weeks between feeding. Rodents on the other hand have a high reproductive rate so losses are easily replaced. I've seen rats literally crawling over and around obviously not hungry rat snakes.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Snakes here simply are not abundant enough to regulate and during the winter they do not feed at all. This event appears to be peaking after killing frost which occurs after snakes done for year.
     
  6. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Has something happened in your area to disturb a large amount of ground cover?
    Scott
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    No. This problem appears to be widespread and may even be going on across a major river. My guess is rough winter last year followed by a very mild summer promoted a large scale increase in small rodent abundance. This year I have gotten almost no predator challenges from critters that also eat lots of small rodents. Predator number down and natural food is super abundant.
     
  8. 123RedBeard

    123RedBeard Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like you need to visit the local shelter and adopt a few kitties ...
     
  9. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Chicken Obsessed

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    Reminds me of the childhood story "I know an old woman who swallowed a fly"
     

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