Rats In Chicken Coop? 10 Ways To Banish Rodents From Your Chicken Coop For Good
Put those rat poisons down.
There are other ways you can keep those pesky rodents out of the chicken coop without potentially harming your flock. You can even get help from your furry feline companion!
Ready to get rid of rats and mice? Here are 10 ways you can do to protect your flock and chicken eggs from rat attacks.
- 10 Ways for Rodent-free Chicken Keeping
10 Ways for Rodent-free Chicken Keeping
Getting rid of rats is not as complicated as you think it is. Just follow these simple guidelines, and your chicken coop will be rodent-free in no time.
1. Warning: Never Use Poisons
You might first want to reach for a rodent poison from the hardware store or try making one yourself. Either way, this is a mistake; poisons can seriously endanger your chickens (1).
- Chickens have voracious appetites and will eat almost anything, including poisons.
- Chickens will also potentially play with a dead rodent that may have been poisoned, thus spreading the poison to other chickens.
- Don’t forget that even if a chicken shows no signs of damage from poison, its eggs may carry some contamination.
2. Install Secure Feeders
The more secure a feeder is, the better off you’ll be. Ideally, you would want to install a feeder that is only accessible to your chickens and not to anything else.
The most common way to achieve this is to have PVC vertical feeders. Chickens can access it. Rodents can not!
Note: If you have baby chicks, they won’t be able to reach vertical feeders
- The best option for secure chicken feeding is to use a weighted feeder.
- Weighted feeders may be purchased, or you can build your own if you prefer a DIY project.
- Chickens may take a little while to learn how the new feeder works, but they will grasp it quickly enough.
Here’s a handy video showing how to make a homemade PVC chicken feeder:
3. Make Use of Secure Feed Storage
Like the secure feeder, you will also need to use a secure feed storage system. If rodents can’t get into the chicken feed, there will be very little reason for them to be interested in the coop at all.
- Stay away from plastic! Even plastic bins that seal tightly are no match for the teeth of a rodent.
- Try using a metal trash can with a tight-fitting or locking lid.
- Get creative with what you have to spare around the house. Even a spare locking metal filing cabinet could store feed on a budget!
4. Rodent-Proof All Bedding
Keep your chickens’ bedding stored safely to prevent infestation. You definitely don’t want to encounter any rodents when it comes time to lay fresh bedding for your birds!
- Like feed storage, bedding can easily be kept in a metal container such as a trash can with a tight-fitting lid.
- Try to store the bedding on top of something with sheer sides that cannot be climbed. A shelf will not work for this.
- Never leave chicken bedding just lying on the ground in its original bag!
5. Utilize Traps
Traps are not the best option for getting rid of rodents in your chicken coop, but there are ways to use them effectively.
- Always pick humane traps! Never place lethal mouse snap traps in your coop. Aside from any ethical or moral complications regarding the killing of rodents, your chickens could very easily step on or peck these traps and harm themselves.
- When using a humane trap, be sure to take rodents far from your property and release them into a wild space (such as a forest).
- Choose humane traps smaller than your chickens so that you don’t run the risk of catching one of your birds.
For more information on other types of pests that can invade your coop, check our great article right here!
6. Keep Your Coop Repaired
Keep your coop in good repair, and you will stop the problem of rodent infestation before it even starts.
- First, check your coop thoroughly. Be sure to pay attention both outside and inside the coop, and keep an eye out for any holes or uneven construction.
- Look for damage to chicken wire, and remember that even a small tear could be an invitation to rodents.
- Patch up any holes and make any other needed repairs as soon as you locate a problem area.
- Make a weekly coop check a priority!
If this sounds difficult get a coop thats already predator proof. Here are the best chicken coops online.
7. Store Feed Properly
Rats and mice invade the chicken coop only for one thing – food. Now, if you’ve already installed a secure feeder like a treadle feeder, but adult chickens and baby chicks are still experiencing rat attacks at night, remove the feed and water at night (2).
Only put out enough food that they can eat during the day and clear up any leftovers before dusk.
If you keep the feed and water sitting out all night, that means rats have a reason to hang around in the coop and have a late dinner. Remember, rats are nocturnal animals.
- Figure out how much feed your chickens eat daily
- When night falls, take the feeder and water out of the chicken coop.
- Store the feed and water in the garage, a cabinet, and anywhere else safe from a rat attack. The key here is “secure.” You don’t want to have a rat infestation in your home. Alternatively, empty the feeder and put the chicken’s feed in an airtight container.
8. Get A Cat Or Dog
You can make chicken keeping less stressful for you and your backyard flock by having a cat or dog around. It’s not for all backyard chicken keepers, but it’s worth the try. No, they’re not going to solve the rat infestation in the coop, but mice are terrified of the smell of a cat (3)!
9. Install smaller chicken coop wires
You can further fortify the chicken coop by installing chicken wires. While standard-size chicken wires will do the trick, they are not effective against small rodents – they’ll squeeze through the hole!
Callout: When shopping for chicken coop wires, never choose plastic because rodents can chew right through them.
- Purchase chicken wires with at least 1/4″ holes
- Install the chicken wires around the chicken coop
- Reinforce with an extra layer of hardware cloth
10. Call A Professional
If the infestation is really out of control, you can eradicate the rats with pest controllers’ help. Do your homework first before hiring a rat exterminator.
- Ask for insurance policy and referrals
- Only hire a pest controller with credentials
- Get a copy of treatment options
No, there is no such thing as chicken-safe rat poison. Even rodenticides are harmful to chickens and other animals. The poison stays inside the body of rats and mice. If there is an unknowing predator that picks-up the carcass, they’ll ingest the poison and die.
The easiest and best way to solve your rat problem is to rat-proof the chicken coop. Add a hardware cloth around your chicken coop and repair entryways. You can also change the chicken feeder or place the feed away from the coop.
Food and water are attracting rats to the chicken coop. If you remove the food sources and keep the coop clean and sanitary, this can quickly solve your rat problem. However, rats (due to desperation) can attack and eat chicks and eggs when the infestation is out of control. Even adult birds are not safe against hungry rats.
When this happens to you, consider reinforcing the chicken coop. Worst case scenario, you’ll have to hire a professional to solve the rat problem.
If rats are digging under the coop, you can fill and cover the holes with soil. You’ll need to be adamant. Every time there is a new hole, cover it immediately. You can put steel wire mesh underneath the coop. Make sure that the barrier is strong enough and cannot be lifted by rats. If that doesn’t work, consider replacing the coop flooring with a concrete floor.
Peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits, and even chocolates are irresistible to rats. However, it doesn’t mean you can immediately trick them into going inside the cage trap. For better success in trapping mice and rats, let them try the bait first until they develop a taste for it. Make sure that your bait is in the right size. Remember, rats hold their food. If the bait is too big, they’re going to abandon the bait altogether.
- Poisons Used to Kill Rodents Have Safer Alternatives. Retrieved from: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/january-february-2013/poisons-used-kill-rodents-have-safer
- Rats And Bird Feeders. Retrieved from: https://www.birdspot.co.uk/bird-feeders/rats-and-bird-feeders
- Why Mice Fear The Smell Of Cats. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/10117428
Alex lives in the sustainability capital of Australia (Byron Bay) where the local community thrives and strongly supports self-sufficient living and green tech entrepreneurship. He began Eco Peanut in 2014 with the mission to spread bite sized sustainability advice to the masses.