Rats in my chicken coopgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Please help This was my biggest nightmare. Rats! I was cleaning the coop when all of the sudden a rat ran from under a bag of shavings. It scared me half to death. The next day I went to the co-op where they told me to get poison. I put it out in the attached barn hoping it would attract them. It has'nt so far, and its been 3 days. Would they not smell the bait? I'm told where there is one rat there're are more! What can I do to get rid of them? Will this be an on going thing?
-- Debbie Mulder (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 17, 2000
Debbie, rats are a real problem. Most cats and some dogs will kill them. The chickens will kill baby rats if they get the chance. Poison is, unfortunately, the best solution. Once you have rats getting rid of them is a very slow process.
If you are sure that the rats aren't taking the bait, try moving it to a more sheltered (from the rats point of view) location. Keep a careful watch for any dead or dying rats, chickens, pets and other animals will eat them and be harmed.
Rats can get through incredibly small openings. They tend to live in/under the foundations of buildings where the most dedicated rat killing cat or dog can't reach them. When we first moved here, we had rats living under the grainery with a hole in the corner of one of the feed rooms. The cats spent a great deal of time in there trying to catch them. To show their frustration, the cats "manured" the hole as best they could. When a farm place was burned near here a few years ago, all the surrounding places (except ours) were over-run by rats. We had one. It took up living in a hole down by the garden. Again the cats devoted themselves to killing it. And showing their frustration/dislike by "manuring" up the hole.
Filling rat holes with water isn't all that successful. Whatever you do, don't try to burn them out. Even if you manage not to set fire to your place yourself, burning rats will escape and do the fire starting for you. Poison, handled with gloves so it doesn't smell like human, left in a sheltered place long enough for the rats to get used to it is your best bet.
Then head for your library and get them to inter-library loan you one of my favorite books, More Cunning Than Man. It is, yes, a book about rats. Fascinating reading. (Also explains why drowning them doesn't work.) In fact, if anyone has an affordable copy in reasonably good or better condition, I'd love to buy it. Gerbil
-- Gerbil (email@example.com), February 17, 2000.
Bummer of a problem! But there are answers. We've had this problem from time to time. First, as most zoning laws dictate (as if they had any idea what is going on!), keep the feed in a metal covered container. Rats will chew through a plastic container to get at the feed. But they'll also go after the feed in your feeder, so this is usually not very effective. Get a barn cat! This is the #1 line of defense. Feed, but do not over-feed, this critter. Tell the dog that this cat is not allowed anywhere near the birdfeeder. Congratulate the dog for understanding and enforcing this rule. If you have a non-hunting cat (rare) give it to an unsuspecting and appreciative yuppie city friend. Secondly, poison does work, but you must be VERY careful. Most feed stores have a container that you can put the rat chow in, that will exclude anything larger. I got mine at Agway. A good, cheap, pretty safe solution is this: Buy a standard rat trap. Mount it on a post or even a wall in the barn (post is best), about 4' above the floor, with the trigger down. Bait with peanut butter. Rats can climb like crazy, and USUALLY will approach from underneath, and this get 'em! Good Luck! Brad
-- Brad (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 17, 2000.
I had this problem several years ago. I actually had my brothers come over at night & have a shooting spree, killing 30+ rats in one night! They still seemed to be coming out of every nook & cranny. I tried poison & I also have cats & 2 dogs. I finally sold every chicken I had & got rid of the feed source so the only option they had was to eat the poison. The next morning I went into the chicken house & picked up 82 dead rats!!! I kept the poison out & did not get any new chickens for several months. That seemed to have worked & I have not had a rat problem since. If I get them that bad again, I'd do the same thing. I know you will probably not want to do this, but mine were starting to move to the house. Not in it, under the porch & did get in the basement. That was too much & I was willing to do anything to get rid of them! They are a big problem & carry a lot of diseases. I have also known very few cats that will tackle a full grown rat. Good luck! Wendy
-- Wendy (email@example.com), February 17, 2000.
Debbie: Yucky, Yucky creatures! We also had rats take up residence under our duck pen and under the hen house. All good answers from those other folks. I have read that after a rat gets trapped or dies from eating poison, others won't come near it. Don't know if that is true or not, as when we find something that works, it only seems to work once or twice, then we have to change tactics and try something different for a while. Our former mother cat, a very nice tame Siamese that just showed up in our barn one day, was a teriffic hunter, and caught many rats when she had kittens she was weaning. She didn't seem to eat the rats, just caught them and took them out to the babies, as they do mice. Didn't seem to intimidate her a bit. I have also had rats drown in 5 gallon buckets of water that I placed in the storage side of our chicken coop during the night, so I didn't have to carry it from the faucet in the morning to give fresh water to the sheep, ducks, etc. Found this twice. They are nasty creatures, and I hope you have good luck ridding yourself of them. I suppose that as long as we have feed and animals, we are going to have some of the undesirable types, too, but I sure hate them! Jan
-- Jan Bullock (Janice12@aol.com), February 17, 2000.
Try your hardest to eliminate feed on the ground - spilled or thrown deliberately. Also get rid of cover on ground, as you saw. Have feed sealed in metal bins - even for a while stored away from the poultry. Use sealed metal feeders with trays just wide enough for poultry to peck in, not scratch food out of. This will stop attracting rats there, and will make the ones that are there hungry enough to take baits.
Anything a rat can get through, a chook's head and neck can get through (do you use the term chook over there?). The answer is to put bait too far into something for poultry to reach. Rats (and mice) will tend to run along walls, so either a yard of wide pipe along the wall, or a board leaned against a wall to make a tunnel, with the poison in the middle, will work. The tunnels can't be too long, though, or the rats will feel uneasy about getting trapped if they go in. It does take a while for rats to get sufficiently used to a new food to eat it: could be an idea to bait with what they've been used to eating for a couple of days first before putting out the poison.
Think UP as well. Rats will use rafters or yard/pen rails as runways if they can. If this is a possibility, put baited rat-traps on top.
-- Don Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 18, 2000.
Ok Brad, ha ha ha.....Lest everyone on the site has me pegged for a "do-gooder' birder fanatic, I have had the best success doing exactly what Brad suggested. Also, when we lived in Texas, we had a major problem with non-celibate rats in the barn. We shot several and managed to poison the rest. Rats seem to know that you are trying to poison them..they are kinda spooky.If I were you, I would run to the nearest animal rescue league and adopt a few cats. They'll be happier with you and you'll be happier without rats. By the way, one of the easiest ways to attract rats to your place is to have a bird feeder with all that nice seed on the ground.We used CO2 cartridge BB pistols and discovered that we were all pretty good shots.I'll take predator cats over rats any day.
-- Lesley Chasko (email@example.com), February 18, 2000.
The drowning thing seems to work. You won't need a 5 gal. bucket, but if it worked for one person, it may work for you. When I was much younger and had to water the chickens before school each morning, it was also my job to dump the drowned rats out of the bucket left in the chicken house. Each night we would leave a water bucket with about 4 or 5 inches of water in it. Enough to drown a rat. They would get thirsty, fall into the bucket, and drown because they couldn't crawl out. They never got into the bucket in the daytime, just at night. Also, (and you must use your head on this one) if we could find the hole and it was situated so we could be sure that the lazy cats wouldn't get into the area, we would wet the area down and sprinkle lye in the hole. The lye would stick to the rats wet feet and start to burn. The rat then licks it's feet and the lye eats on the rats insides. Not a pleasant picture, but rats are not very pleasant either. They always seemed to crawl into their hole to die. There were never dead rats lying (no pun intended) around. The cats did enjoy feeding time in the morning when I would dump out the rats.
-- BROOM MAKER (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 18, 2000.
Wendy, you have been dealing with wimpy cats. Our barncats are pretty large and I suspect they would attack a capybara if they felt like it. But there are hunters, and occasionally a non-hunter, though the latter are pretty rare in my experience. And Lesley, I am absolutely serious about my dog Smokey, and his dedication to keeping barn cats away from the bird feeder. In the barn, the cats rub up against him, and they are great buddies. But if I spy a barn cat anywhere near the feeder, and say, even softly "barn cat", he goes to red alert and cannot get out the door fast enough to get that damned cat back in the barn where it belongs! In speaking of them, we started using "BC". I swear to God, he picked up on that. We now spell "b-a-r-n c-a-t" and he is beginning to understand that as well. OK. Back to the rats. Here's a trap that does work. A 5 gallon bucket will work, but a wider mouth is better if you have large super- rats. Drill holes 180 degrees apart right at the top. Buy some liquid in a smallish can. Concentrated orange juice, V-8, tomato sauce, or whatever. Don't cut the top off, but drill a hole in the center of each end. Empty contents (you'll need a bigger hole for tomato sauce than apple juice). String wire through the can and stretch tautly across top of bucket. Smear peanut butter on can. Put @8" of water in bucket. Rats will jump to the peanut butter, and spin into the water, where they will drown. Put enough water in bucket so they cannot get a purchase on the bottom and jump out (they are good jumpers). It also helps to put an access board from ground level to the top of the bucket to help them out. Note: This system has a severe loss in efficiency if the water freezes! Good Luck!
-- Brad (email@example.com), February 18, 2000.
Cool, Brad, another use for the 5 gallon buckets that I am scrounging from our Co-op's dumpster.......!!!!
-- Leann Banta (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 20, 2000.
Rats i have been a small farmer since before jerry was out of college i have been over run with rat:S WHat i do i get a piece of 2 inch flexiable tubing back pickup or car next to hole hook to tailpipe and stick other end in hole run engine for20minutes this willrid u of most everthing in the tunnels i hope this helps with all that hates poisions as i do ps.ido app. countryside as ihave most copies since no. one thanks jerry from uncleduk
-- don summers (email@example.com), February 20, 2000.
Debbie, My grandfather used the "water-in-bucket" idea but he floated oats on top of the water and leaned a stick or branch against the side so the rats or mice could run up it. The floating oats looked like a solid floor to the rats my dad tells me. Caught a lot of vermin that way. Good luck.
-- Peg (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
I wrote in awhile back about my chickens eatting their eggs. I now beleive I have more of a problem. I did the suggestions given to me. (Thanks everyone!) But now after the loss of 1 chicken, and 3 ducks, and countless eggs I think it must be a big rat or someother varmit. The chickens and ducks were all killed the same way, small mark on the neck, nothing else touched on the outside, all the insides eatten out, from up the backside.YUCK! my poor kids found their ducks first. Does this sound like the worl of a rat or sometihng else?I am going to try the suggestion by Brad Feb. 18/2000 tonight. I sure hope this works. L.Graham
-- Graham (email@example.com), March 21, 2000.
When my chickens are eaten from the bottom up into the body cavity it has been skunks and opposums. I usually catch them in the live trap the next night or so when they come back for another meal.
-- Susan DeFrancisco (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 2000.
Graham, another thing you might try is to put bait or live trap in a flat area where you can sprinkle liberally with flour. While you may not catch the varmit, you will get a look at it's paw prints, and then you will know what you are dealing with. This has worked and been helpful for me in the past, in differentiating between rats and a weasel. Best of luck!
-- Rachel (email@example.com), March 21, 2000.
Before I started, I made certain that every opening to the outside of my coop was covered with 1/2 inch mesh welded wire. I also poured a concrete floor in the coop. It was expensive, but it helps cleaning as well as rodents. I also close the door to the coop every night to avoid any unwanted animals from entering after dark.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 30, 2001.