Rats like chickens. They learn quickly that a chicken coop is a potential meal. They will eat your feed, your eggs, and might even eat your baby chicks. Although they won’t harm your adult hens (and the hens might even kill and eat them), they do pose a risk by potentially carrying and spreading disease through your flock.
There are ways you can help discourage rats and other rodents from using your coop as a buffet, before the problem even starts. Here are some ideas:
- Always store your feed in metal cans with tight fitting lids. Rats can chew through plastic.
- Collect eggs regularly.
- Feed your chickens in such a way that they eat all their food before they go to bed at night. This way there won’t be any food out begging a rodent to eat it.
- Line the bottom of your chicken run with hardwire cloth (and then cover it with a nice layer of dirt). This will discourage rats from tunneling under and into the run. (Concrete flooring will accomplish the same thing).
- Dig an 18-inch (or so) trench around your coop and bury hardwire down, to create a barrier.
- I’ve read that keeping your food containers off the ground will also help, but considering rats both climb and jump incredible distances, I’m not sure how this will help?
Once you notice a rodent problem, it’s hard to use poison to fix the problem because there’s always a risk that your chickens (or other animals) will get into it. And even if you are super safe about where you place the poison, your hens could potentially find a dead, poison filled rat, before you do and consume it.
Traps potentially cause the same issues as poison in that they could end up hurting/killing something you never intended to be harmed.
Here are some potential solutions and/or home remedies you can try:
- Plug up the holes with steel wool, because rodents don’t like to chew through it.
- Be prepared that if you effectively stop them from one route, they might find another.
- Put out Coca Cola for them to drink. Apparently, rats can’t burp, so drinking it will kill them.
- Use a 50/50 mix of dry cornmeal and Plaster of Paris and put it somewhere where the rats will eat it. It will get in their stomach, harden and kill them.
- Make a bucket trap using a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. Drill a 1-1.5 inch hole in the top of the lid. Add some corn or sweet grains inside the bucket with some poison mixed in. The rats will climb into the bucket; eat the grain mixed with poison and die. They won’t be able to get back out the hole, so it keeps poison-filled rats from randomly being found by unsuspecting and innocent animals.
Just in case there is a sympathic rat-lover out there, let me tell you a few facts about rats. A female rat can have up to 12 litters (containing 20 babies each) every year. Rats consume or destroy up to 1/5th of the world’s food supply. Rats love to chew through things (they’re actually credited for up to 25% of the house fires and 26% of the electrical cable breaks) because their teeth grow ½ inch per month.
And if all that isn’t enough, they can eat your precious backyard laid eggs, your baby chicks, and your chicken feed, not to mention spread disease among your flock. Being proactive is a great way to start. Send a message to the rats in your area that they aren’t welcome.
Do you have an effecitve way to get rid of your rat problem? If so, let us know!