Are rats digging under chicken coop? We understand the frustration all too well and there’s always a solution. This post provides you with a comprehensive step-by-step guide on the most effective methods to stop rats from your chicken coop.
The population of rats has grown to such an extent that they are now visible throughout the day, and some even manage to enter homes in search of food. The safety of young chicks then gets compromised as they fall victim to rat attacks. Moreover, a significant portion of chicken feed gets consumed by these critters in the process.
The issue of rats in the coop is a common problem faced by numerous backyard chicken keepers, but don’t worry, you are about to fix the frustration. Through extensive experiments and reaching out to pest industry experts, we have discovered effective ways to keep rats away from the chicken coop.
What to Know About Rats Digging Under Chicken Coop
Before implementing the techniques for rat removal in your chicken coop, you want to get to know some key aspects of the issue at hand. Often, you cannot beat these critters without a proper understanding of their activities.
|Facts About Rats
|A pair of rats can produce up to 2,000 offspring annually.
|Rats are primarily nocturnal. Daytime sightings may indicate a severe infestation.
|Dental structure and strength
|Rats have incredibly strong, open-rooted teeth that grow continuously. They can chew through most materials, including chicken wire, plastic totes, drywall, cinder blocks, bricks, wood, and even lead pipes.
|Rats can fit through gaps as small as a quarter’s diameter, allowing them to squeeze through openings in chicken wire.
|Rats carry various harmful pathogens and pests, such as fleas, mites, plague, salmonella, hantavirus, and hemorrhagic fever.
|Rats are skilled diggers and climbers and can jump up to eight feet high. They can burrow several feet deep and find their way into structures from above if not properly secured.
|Threat to poultry
|Rats pose a risk to baby chicks and, in desperate situations, may attack fully grown chickens.
|Endurance and swimming ability
|Rats can survive longer without water than camels and can tread water for up to 3 days. They can also swim a quarter of a mile.
|Rats are incredibly adaptable in their diet and can consume almost anything, including garden vegetables and livestock.
How to Stop Rats Digging Under Chicken Coop
You want to stop these critters from digging under the chicken coop. You will need to follow the few steps here. First, remove their shelter, then make sure they have no food, and finally, actively fight any remaining rats. You’ll need to take a few actions to make your property less attractive to a pair of rats seeking food, rest, and reproduction.
Follow these steps to get a rat-free chicken within a few weeks with no more rats digging under the coop:
1. Remove Shelter Sources
If your chicken coop becomes inhospitable for rats, they will be less likely to stay and reproduce, reducing the number of rats around your coop.
a. Tidy up any mess
Rats prefer living and hiding in messy places. If you have stacks of items like tools, bricks, wood, leaves, or junk on your property, chances are rats are residing in them. Lift everything off the ground and place them on shelves or hang them on walls to deter rats from settling in. Ensure that the grass around the coop is well-trimmed to eliminate hiding spots for rats.
b. Make the chicken coop rat-resistant
This process can be tough. When it comes to rats, where there’s determination, there’s a path. If your coop is built with wood or has a dirt floor, rats can chew or dig under the chicken coop at night. If possible, when building the coop from scratch, elevate it at least one foot above the ground to make it more challenging for rats to hide and gain access. Alternatively, consider using poured cement for the coop floor.
If your floor is made of wood or dirt, use a strong wire mesh to cover it, and make sure you cover the corners and edges properly. You should also fold the wire mesh where it meets the wall and attach it to the wall a few inches above using staples. Rats are most likely to get in through corners or where the walls meet the floor or ceiling.
c). Seal and conceal openings
If rats have made holes in your chicken coop or beneath it, use steel wool to plug the holes and cover them with strong wire mesh.
Also, fill any holes in the ground around your coop because rats enjoy digging tunnels. Just be persistent in filling the holes; if they create new ones the following day, fill those as well. Remember, the goal is to convince rats that this is not a suitable place for them to live. Of course, it will require some effort.
d). Make the compost rat-resistant
A lot of people who rear chickens also have a compost heap. If you don’t, you can skip to the next tip, but if you do, secure that pile tightly. Rats and mice enjoy living in compost. It provides them with everything they need – cozy bedding, a secure spot to reproduce, and an abundance of food.
If you want to prevent rats from residing in your compost, you’ll need to make it as inhospitable for them as you can. To begin with, avoid placing food leftovers in an uncovered bin. Instead, use a metal trash can with small holes drilled into it. This way, the organic material can decompose properly without rodents being able to access it.
Some people think that rats only go for cooked food in the compost. But that’s not true. If they’re hungry, they will eat anything in there that is edible. Therefore, make sure to put all food scraps into the metal bins, or else you’ll end up feeding the rats.
You can still put yard clippings, leaves, straw, and animal poop in an uncovered pile for composting. However, remember that it’s a great spot for rats to make a home. Keep them away by regularly wetting the pile with water and use a pitchfork to mix it up every few days to disturb any potential rodent homes.
2. Deprive Rats of Food Sources
The main reason you have rats is because you’re giving them food unknowingly. You are not deliberately throwing food on the ground in your backyard and inviting all the neighborhood rodents. However, if they are on your property, it is because you have what they want and you are providing it to them in abundance.
The only way to permanently stop rats digging under chicken coop is to remove all their food. You will need to cover all areas. If you keep providing food, they will never, and I mean never, go away. Even if you trap or poison thousands of them, more will come if there’s still food available.
Remember, if you feed them, they will come. Now, let’s examine how you’re providing food for the rats.
a. Regularly gather eggs
Rats do not like raw eggs, they prefer cooked ones, but they will snatch and eat them if there is no other food available. Thus, make sure to regularly collect the eggs and do not leave them in the coop overnight.
You may be wondering why your eggs keep disappearing from the nesting boxes every day. Don’t blame the chickens; it is the rats’ doing.
b. Keep your chicken food contained
Many people raising chickens tend to keep their chicken food outside for easy access. They often use plastic containers to store the feed. However, rats can easily chew through a plastic bin within an hour and feed from it throughout the night. Instead, store your livestock and pet food in metal garbage cans with a secure lid. Any other kind of container can easily be chewed through within a few hours.
Alternatively, you can store the chicken feed inside your house and only bring a day’s worth of food to the chicken coop each time.
c. Keep the trash indoors
Rats can easily chew through plastic trash bins and feast on your garbage every night. So, it’s either you store your outdoor trash in a metal garbage can with a secure lid, keep it in a garage or shed, or wait until garbage day to take it outside.
While this may not be a permanent solution, it deprives the rats of food until you can control their presence.
d. Secure Chicken Feeder and Water Container at Night
Leaving the chicken feeder and water container out all night allows rats to access them and consume food and water intended for your flock.
This not only provides sustenance to the rats but also poses a risk to the health of your chickens, as rats can transmit diseases and parasites through contaminated food and water. Even if you have hanging feeders and water founts, rats can still find a way to reach them due to their jumping and climbing abilities.
3. Keep Chicken Coop Rats at Bay
Tabulated below are the general things you should do.
|1. Implement Daily Indoor-Outdoor Routine for Feeders and Founts
|To prevent rats from accessing your chicken’s food and water, ensure you remove the feeders and founts from the coop or run at the end of each day and place them back the next morning.
|2. Calculate Precise Food Quantities
|Determine the precise quantity of food your chickens require daily and provide only that specific amount. This minimizes leftover feed that can attract rats.
|3. Use Rat-Resistant Chicken Feeders
|Acquire a chicken feeder designed to be resistant to rats. Treadle-style feeders are effective in preventing rodents from accessing the feed. They are designed so that only the chickens can access the food, thus excluding other animals such as rodents and wild birds.
Ensure that you tidy up any leftover snacks and table scraps you feed to the chickens throughout the day before nightfall. This practice should also extend to Flock Blocks, as they can sustain a family of rats for months.
The purpose of this measure is to eliminate any remnants of edible substances from your property entirely during the nighttime, leaving no trace for potential pests.
a. Secure young chicks indoors during nighttime
Guard against the threat of rats by ensuring the safety of your baby chicks during nighttime. Desperate for food, rats have been known to resort to extreme measures, such as killing and devouring young chicks.
b. Ensure that the chicken yard remains clear of any food waste
While it makes sense to provide kitchen and garden scraps to chickens in the chicken run, it can be significantly challenging when dealing with rats digging under chicken coop.
Rats tended to have an appetite for virtually anything, including the remnants of the meals you generously feed to your feathered friends. The fix is to:
- either refrain from tossing these treats into the run for a few weeks, or
- promptly remove any uneaten leftovers after a few hours. This method can reduce attractants for rodents and maintain a clean environment in the chicken run.
c. Get a barn cat
A proficient mouser serves as your most effective line of defense against an impending rat population. Cats not only pursue and eliminate rats, but their presence and scent on your property also discourage rodents from establishing a habitat there.
If you find yourself in a situation where your cat shows little interest in hunting rats and instead prefers playing with them, it is time to proceed to the next step.
d. Deploy traps
You could start with humane traps such as rat bucket traps. There are several highly effective rat traps, including traditional snap traps and electric traps. However, these are inhumane options and may endanger your chickens and other non-target animals, so be careful when using them. You can use chicken feed or peanut butter and meat to catch rats every night. You also want to set multiple traps, depending on the size of your chicken coop and where the rats are digging.
e. Use rat poison
Be cautious when considering poisons. Moreover, poisons should be your final option if all other methods have failed. While it may appear to be a simple solution to a significant problem, resorting to poison for rodent control can create even larger issues in the future.
|Drawbacks of Using Rat Poison
|1. Risk to Other Animals
|If a poisoned rodent dies in an exposed location and is consumed by other animals (e.g., chickens, cats, dogs, or local wildlife), it could lead to secondary poisoning.
|2. Rat Immunity and Avoidance
|Rats have developed immunity to many poisons over time and have learned to avoid certain types. Therefore, you may need to frequently switch the type of poison, as one particular option may not remain effective for long.
|3. Inaccessible Carcasses
|If rats consume the poison, they are likely to die in inaccessible areas, such as underneath the coop or within its walls, making removal difficult and potentially leading to odor and decay problems.
If you opt for poisons to stop rats digging under chicken coop, use bait stations for dispensing the poison. This can mitigate concerns about accidental poisoning of your chickens or other wildlife.
A viable alternative to using poison, which has proven effective for many chicken keepers, involves combining cornmeal with plaster of Paris. Rats consume the mixture, but their inability to digest the plaster leads to their demise.
How to Set Rat Traps in Your Chicken Coop
Follow these tips to reduce the risks of hurting your farm animals and other non-target wildlife.
|Rat Trapping Tips
|1. Optimal Trap Placement
|Place traps along the edges of walls as rats prefer traveling in these areas. They find these locations secure, making them optimal for trapping.
|2. Correct Bait Placement
|Ensure that you place the bait exclusively inside the designated cup of the trap. Avoid bait placement on the plate or surrounding the trap. Rats that inadvertently trigger the trap by consuming spilled food without getting caught will learn to avoid it in the future.
|3. Safety Measures for Other Animals
|To prevent unintended harm to other animals, such as dogs, cats, or chickens, do not leave traps in easily accessible areas. It’s recommended to block off the traps, leaving only a small opening for rodents to pass through.
Never use glue traps (rats may even escape from them) under any circumstances as they are considered an unquestionably inhumane and cruel method of eliminating pests. Glue traps often result in the death of other innocent wildlife, including songbirds, snakes, and small mammals. The objective should never be to eradicate the animal population in your backyard.
Seek Professional Assistance
With these tips, your chicken coop will hopefully become rat-free in a short time. If you are unable to stop rats digging under chicken coop yourself, consider the services of professional rodent control. Reach out to a professional rodent control service and invest in their expertise to resolve rat infestation in your coop. Pest exterminators typically have the necessary knowledge and skills to counter any rat problem safely.
Read also: How to feed birds without attracting rats