Rats are often seen as pests, and for a good reason. They’re known to carry diseases and can cause property damage. But why are they attracted to your chicken coop, and what can you do to prevent a rat infestation? Let’s take a closer look at why chickens attract rats and what you can do about it.
Do Chickens Attract Rats?
Technically speaking, rats are not interested in chickens – what does interest them however, is the opportunity to eat chicken feed and eggs. This is because rats are omnivorous animals, which means that they eat both plants and animals.
Chicken food typically contains a high level of carbohydrates, which are a major source of energy for rats. Fresh eggs, on the other hand, are an excellent added source of protein. The combination of these two items makes your chicken coop a perfect food source for rats.
In addition, while rats are extremely adaptable and can live in a wide range of environments, they prefer warm and enclosed places where they can nest. Chicken coops typically have plenty of hiding spots for rats, which makes them especially attractive to these rodents. Combined with the abundance of food and water, chicken coops can provide everything that a family of rats needs to thrive.
Rats Are Not Just Yucky
While most people think of rats as dirty, disease-ridden pests, there is actually a lot to admire about these creatures. For one thing, they are highly intelligent, and pet rats can be trained to perform a variety of tricks. They are also very clean animals, spending hours grooming themselves each day.
While rats may not be everyone’s favorite animal, it is hard to deny that rats are very fascinating creatures with a bad rep that is sometimes justified but often undeserved.
However, rats certainly do not belong around your backyard chickens, and it’s important to be aware of the risk of attracting rats. Taking steps to prevent them from getting to chicken feed and eggs is essential to help keep your flock, and your family, safe.
Why are Rats a Problem?
Anyone who’s ever had rats in their chicken coop knows that they’re more than just a nuisance. These destructive pests can carry diseases, eat your chickens’ food, and even kill young chicks.
They Spread Diseases
Rats are dangerous for a number of reasons. First, they can carry diseases that are harmful to humans and animals alike. Some of the most common diseases associated with rats include leptospirosis, hantavirus, tularemia, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, and salmonella. Even the bubonic plague is still a risk in some areas of the world, though thankfully treatable and rare.
They Eat Chicken Feed, Eggs, and Chicks
Second, rats are voracious eaters and will quickly clean out a chicken feeder if given a chance. And that’s not the only thing on their menu – they also like to feast on eggs. If you collect fewer eggs than usual in addition to other signs of a rat problem, it’s time to take action.
Perhaps most importantly, many rats kill and eat young chicks if given a chance. While rats are rarely a threat to adult chickens, they can quickly decimate a flock of young chicks. Adult quail are also at risk, as their small size makes them easy prey for rats.
They Damage Buildings
Rats can also cause major damage to your home and other constructions, chewing through walls, wiring, insulation, and anything else they can get their teeth on. In addition, their droppings can contaminate food and surfaces, creating unpleasant odors.
They Are Hard to Get Rid Of
Finally, rats reproduce very quickly. A single pair of rats can produce a population of up to 1,500 rats in just one year. This rapid reproduction rate means that a rat infestation can quickly get out of control. If you see even one rat around your chicken coop, it’s usually a sign that many more are close by.
Rat vs. Mouse: Knowing the Differences
The first step in dealing with a potential rat problem is to be able to identify the culprit. Mice and rats are both small rodents with long tails. But there are some key differences between them.
Mice are typically smaller than rats, with pointed noses and large ears relative to their body size. Rats, on the other hand, have blunt noses and small ears. They also have longer bodies and tails than mice.
While they are both members of the rodent family, mice and rats can be distinguished by not only their appearance but also their behavior. Mice are small and agile, with long tails and big ears. They are also good climbers, and they like to build nests out of materials like paper and grass.
In contrast, rats have shorter and thicker tails relative to their size. They are not quite as good at climbing as mice, but they are strong swimmers. Rats also prefer to burrow underground rather than build nests in existing hiding places.
Perhaps the most immediately noticeable difference between the two is their droppings’ sizes. Mice droppings are small with pointy ends. Rat droppings, on the other hand, are much larger, measuring up to 3/4 inch in length with blunt ends.
When it comes to behavior, mice are generally shy and timid, while rats can be aggressive. However, both mice and rats can carry diseases, so it is important to take precautions if you see either one in your home.
Finally, rats are generally much larger than mice, reaching up to 18 inches, including the tail, compared to the 7½ inches of a mouse. These physical differences can help you identify which type of rodent is causing problems in your home.
While mice should also be kept out of the chicken coop, they are somewhat less of an immediate concern than rats. Since mice are less aggressive than rats, they present a smaller threat of attacking your birds. Also, it’s much more difficult to get rid of rats compared to mice.
How to Tell If You Have a Rat Problem
Once you know what to look for, it’s not hard to tell if you have a rat problem. Of course, seeing a live rat is a sure sign that you have an infestation, but there are other signs as well:
- Look for Rat Droppings: Rats leave behind 30 to 50 pellets of waste per day, so finding droppings is a good indicator that you have a problem.
- Look for rub marks: Rats like to travel along the same routes, so repeated contact with surfaces will leave behind greasy rub marks.
- Listen for scratching noises: If you hear unexplained scratching noises coming from walls or ceiling, it’s possibly due to rats.
In addition to droppings and rub marks, rats can also leave behind damage to your property. Chewing damage on wood or wiring, urine stains, and grease marks are all signs that you have a rat problem.
It can be difficult to tell if you have a rat problem if they live a distance away because they are opportunistic eaters who may not leave much evidence of their presence. But if the rats live right around your chicken coop, you will see tunnels. The rats will tunnel around the coop to get to the chicken feed.
If left unchecked, rats can cause serious damage to your home or chicken coop – so it’s important to take action as soon as possible.
How You Get Rid of Rats Fast
If you have rats in your backyard, it’s important to get rid of them as soon as possible. There are a few different ways to do this, including the use of dry ice, traps, baits, and pest control management companies. In this section will discuss each method in detail so that you can decide which one is right for you.
One way to kill rats is with the use of dry ice. Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide. When dry ice is placed in an enclosed space, it slowly releases carbon dioxide gas which can quickly build up to lethal levels in small, confined spaces. The rats will simply breathe in the carbon dioxide and die painlessly.
To use dry ice to kill rats, simply place it in the entrances of their burrows and cover with soil. It is easy to use, and it poses no risk to humans or pets. However, dry ice does have some disadvantages. For example, it can be difficult to place in small spaces, and it can be dangerous to handle without proper safety gear. Nonetheless, dry ice is a powerful tool for controlling rats and other pests.
A more common method for killing rats is to use traps. The advantage of traps is that they’re relatively humane (as long as you check them regularly). The downside is that they can be time-consuming to set up, and you’ll need to dispose of the dead rats properly.
The three most commonly used traps are snap traps, glue boards, and electric traps.
- Snap traps consist of a wooden or plastic base with a spring-loaded bar that snaps shut when triggered. Snap traps work by baiting the trap, and then when the rat bites the bait, the trap snaps shut and kills the rat.
- Glue boards work by baiting the trap and then when the rat steps on it, it gets stuck to the board and eventually dies from exhaustion. This is an effective but somewhat less humane killing method.
- Electric traps work by baiting the rat, and when the rat steps into it, it gets electrocuted. While I don’t have very good experience with snap traps, electric-style traps are much more effective in my experience. Electric traps are somewhat expensive, but they can be recharged and reused many times, making them a cost-effective option for long-term rat control.
I recommend baiting your traps with peanut butter and placing them along walls and pathways where you have seen the rats travel.
Another very common method for ridding your property of rats is to use poison. The advantage of using poison is that it’s relatively easy to set up – you just need to put the bait out and wait for the rats to eat it.
The downside, however, is that poison can be dangerous to your backyard chickens if they eat it – or if they eat a dead rat that has ingested poison. Additionally, if you have children or pets, you’ll need to be careful to keep the poison out of their reach.
If you have any questions about their use, consult a pest control professional or the manufacturer. Used properly and with care, poisons can help you keep your home and yard free of pests very quickly.
Some people use cats to keep rats away from their chicken coops. The advantage of this method is that it’s natural and effective. The downside is that it requires care and attention from you as well as a regular supply of food for your cat. Additionally, if you’re not careful, the cat could end up killing your baby chicks instead of just keeping the rats away.
Pest Control Management Companies
Finally, pest control management companies can also be used to manage rat populations.
Pest control companies are very effective at eliminating rat infestations as they have the personnel, equipment, and experience to locate and remove rats from properties. In addition, they often utilize multiple methods to control rat populations, including traps, poison baits, and mechanical barriers.
As a result, pest control management companies are often the best option for those dealing with rats. Some pest control management companies also offer other services, such as exclusion work and habitat modification.
How to Prevent Rats from Infesting Your Chicken Coop
Rats have hard, sharp teeth that can chew through many things, including chicken wire. They can also squeeze through small spaces, thanks to their flexible skeletons. In addition, rats are excellent swimmers and can hold their breath for up to three minutes. Not surprisingly, rats are notoriously difficult to get rid of once they have infested an area.
Preventing Rats in the Coop
The best way to avoid a rat problem is by preventing one in the first place, as it’s much harder to get rid of them after they’ve already moved in. Here are some tips on how to keep rats from infesting your chicken coop.
Build a Rat-proof Chicken Coop
There are several ways to prevent rats from gaining access to your backyard chickens. The most important measure you can take is to ensure that your chicken coop and run are well-built and sturdy. Rats are skilled climbers, and they can squeeze through very small openings.
Use heavy-duty 1/2 or 1/4-inch hardware cloth or welded wire to line the bottom of your coop. It should be covered with no gaps or holes that a rat could squeeze through. In addition, it should have a tight-fitting door that rats cannot gnaw their way through. Also line any ventilation openings with hardware cloth.
Protect the Run
The chicken run can be made from any type of sturdy 1/2 or 1/4-inch mesh, such as hardware cloth. If possible, you should also line the bottom of the run with hardware cloth to prevent rats from burrowing their way in.
If the run is too large for you to line the entire bottom, you can place a skirt of hardware cloth around the run, going out a few feet. This will create a barrier that rats will rarely dig through.
In addition, it is important to keep the chicken run clean and free of food debris so that rats will not be attracted to it in the first place. Even if they are unable to get into the run or coop, rats have been known to burrow underneath chicken runs and build their nests there.
Make the Rats Feel Exposed
If possible, remove any nearby potential hiding spots, such as piles of rocks or firewood. This will make it more difficult for rats to find a place to hide and will make it easier for you to see them if they are around. Rats dislike being out in the open where they are vulnerable to predators, so making your chicken coop and run as open and exposed as possible will deter them from hanging around.
Hide Your Chicken Feed
You also need to be vigilant about keeping food sources away from rats, and chicken feed is a major attractant for rats, so it’s important to keep it out of reach. Food should be stored in metal or solid plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, and immediately clean up any spilled feed.
Chicken feeders should also be designed in a way that makes it difficult for rats to access the food. Consider investing in a rat-proof chicken feeder, such as a feeder with a weight-sensitive lid that will open automatically if a chicken steps on a plate. You can also make your own rat-proof chicken feeder by attaching these affordable SmartStopper Caps to any type of container.
Some chicken keepers recommend hanging a feeder from the ceiling, while others place the feeder on a platform or table so that rats cannot reach it from the ground. Whichever method you choose, make sure that there is no way for rats to climb up to the feeder and get to the food.
It is also important to clean up any spilled chicken feed around the feeder regularly so that rats do not have a food source around the coop. Sweep up any spilled feed and store it in a secure container until you can dispose of it properly.
Don’t Have Kitchen Scraps Laying Around
If you feed your backyard chickens kitchen scraps, leave it out in the open, where rats are more hesitant to go. Collect the scraps in the house or in a closed bag or container and only put them out when you are ready to feed them to your chickens. This will prevent rats from getting to the food and will also help keep them away from your chickens.
Also, be sure to only provide your chickens with food that they can eat in a relatively short time so that there are no leftovers laying around.
Prevent Access to Water
Water will also attract rats, so it is important to keep water sources away from areas where rats could access them. Chicken waterers should be placed on a platform or table that rats cannot reach. If possible, remove the water source at night so that rats will not have access to water and will be forced to leave the area in search of it.
Finally, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your flock for signs of rat activity. Look for rat droppings around the coop and run, as well as gnawed holes or burrows. If you find evidence of rats, take immediate action to get rid of them before they have a chance to do any more damage.
Though they may seem like harmless creatures, rats can pose a serious threat to your backyard chickens – and your property as a whole. Rats carry diseases, eat your chickens’ food, and even eat young chicks; so it’s important to do everything you can to prevent them from taking up residence in your coop.
Start by ensuring that your coop is sturdy and well-built, with no gaps or holes that rats could squeeze through. You should also store chicken feed in airtight containers and clean up any spilled food. To further prevent rats from tunneling into your chicken coop or run, consider lining the perimeter with hardware cloth – a type of wire mesh that rats cannot gnaw their way through.
By regularly inspecting your property for signs of damage or chewing, taking action immediately if you see a rat near the coop, keeping the area clean and free of debris where rats could hide or nest, and storing chicken feed in sealed containers that rats can’t access, you can help discourage these unwanted visitors from taking up residence in your backyard or chicken coop.
If rats have already moved into your chicken run or coop, there are several different ways to kill them, including the use of dry ice, traps, baits, and pest control management companies.
🐀 What are rats attracted to in chicken coops
Warmth, shelter, and food are all things that rats are attracted to in chicken coops.
🐀 Will rat poop hurt chickens?
Yes. Rats can be hosts to multiple bacteria. Most are not transmissible to chickens, but some are. Including salmonella.
🐀 How can I keep rats away from my chicken coop?
Build a coop that is sturdy and with no gaps or holes that rats could squeeze through will keep rats out. Keeping the area clean will avoid attracting rats in the first place.
🐀 What kind of damage do rats do in chicken coops?
Rats can gnaw through chin chicken wire, wood, and other materials. They can also contaminate feed and water with their droppings, which can lead to the spread of disease.
🐀 How do I know if I have rats in my chicken coop?
The best way to know if you have rats in your chicken coop is to look for rat droppings. Burrows are also sure signs of rats.
🐀 What are some ways to get rid of rats in chicken coops?
Hire a professional pest management company, use traps, set poison, or use dry ice.