If you own a flock of chickens then keeping them safe will be one of your main priorities. When it comes to chickens, predators and other vermin are a threat and a natural concern. But what about rats, specifically? Will keeping chickens naturally draw them and is there anything you can do to prevent this from happening? How do you respond if it already has? Well, this is what you need to know and consider.
Do chickens attract rats? Chickens do not attract rats. However, keeping them can. Rats are drawn to food, so available feed, eggs, and scraps can entice them to the coop. This is especially likely if food is left to rot, or poor husbandry results in a coop that smells. The promise of shelter and warmth can also draw them in.
If your chicken coop is not adequately built, secure, or maintained, rats can become a serious issue.
They can make their way inside (even through the tightest of spaces) and will do all they can to get fed. Whether this is helping themselves to the eggs, or even attacking the younger birds.
So making sure that your chicken coop is clean, organized, and secure is all absolutely crucial.
This means keeping it dry, well ventilated, and most importantly, free from anything that could attract unwanted visitors.
Does Keeping Chickens Cause Rats?
Keeping chickens can cause rats, particularly if you have poor husbandry or inadvertently entice them through insufficient cleaning/storage. That being said, you can keep chickens and not draw rats if you are proactive and mindful.
There is undoubtedly a correlation between chicken keeping and rats.
And there is no doubt that keeping chickens increases the likelihood of rats and other rodents being drawn to your property.
That being said, if you are proactive about preventing rats, you can dramatically reduce the chances of them becoming an issue.
It’s not necessarily the practice of keeping chickens that attracts rats to your property. Instead, it’s very likely to be the result of how you keep them.
Why Keeping Chickens Can Attract Rats
Rats actively seek out food and shelter; two things that a chicken coop can provide. There are multiple opportunities to feed, and insulation that can keep a rat warm (and protected from other predators).
Will Rats Attack Chickens?
Rats will preferentially go for the eggs, but they have been known to attack and prey on young and smaller chickens. If food is scarce and the infestation is severe, they may also attack adult birds too.
Having a well-built chicken coop is your flock’s first line of defense, and there are some essential features your coop needs to prevent rats from attacking chickens, especially if they’re young.
- Your coop should be fitted with a 10mmx10mm galvanized wire mesh that is securely fixed in place. Ordinary chicken wire is not adequate and rats are known to be able to get through it.
- You must install good-quality locks, padlocks, and sliding bolts to prevent rats from forcing their way in.
- You must put nesting boxes out of a rat’s easy reach.
- Rats gnaw on everything; for this reason, you must make sure that the coop is made with high-quality timber. The timber must be weather-resistant to make it difficult to chew through.
How To Prevent Rats When Keeping Chickens
Prevention is always better than cure. The following are simple ways you can prevent rats from becoming an issue.
Do Not Entice Them
First and foremost, you need to do all you can to not draw rats and other predators in, to begin with.
You need to conduct regular cleaning (and deep cleaning) of the coop.
Remove any uneaten food and scraps and you need to ensure you are storing all food away properly.
Using appropriate vermin-proof feeders is a great idea, too.
The key is to minimize food waste and keep food sources out of easy reach.
Some easy and practical measures include:
- Clean up all spilled feed before nighttime. Take away and remove any scraps that were left for your birds and that were not eaten.
- Store feed away from the coop and put it in an airtight container, with a lid securely in place.
- Cover feeders and water sources at night, and/or use specialized hanging feeders/waterer’s
Secondly, you must ensure that you have a well-designed and secure chicken coop.
With rats, you need to be aware of how fast they are, how high they can climb, and how difficult they are to get rid of once they find refuge on your property.
They can squeeze through tiny holes, even many feet in the air, dig deep and for long distances, and even chew through wood!
This is why you really need to think about your setup – ensure it is well secure and use any appropriate technology like fencing, specialized wire, etc.
From there, and if rats begin to take hold, you may need to actively attempt to reduce and take out rats and other vermin.
While some chickens will take care of the problem themselves, poison and/or bait boxes are the two most commonly used by chicken keepers.
Prevention is always better than cure, so it is best to limit the chances of rats and other rodents in the first place.
We will look at some methods in the following section below.
How Do I Get Rid Of Rats In My Chicken Coop?
If you are currently dealing with a rat infestation, all hope is not lost. You can get rid of rats and keep them away.
Rats in the coop are a risk for your flock and you must take whatever steps necessary to get rid of these pests.
Let’s look at five ways to take care of any rat situation:
Rat Poison is an effective way to exterminate rats, especially during a severe infestation.
Although, you do need to be careful of how you use it and where you place it – ensuring no chickens/other pets or wild animals can access it.
At the same time, you do not want to place them near or around the coop. Instead, you should use bait to lure rats/mice away.
- For use in and around agricultural buildings and homes
- Norway rats, roof rats and house mice cease feeding after consuming a toxic dose
- Kills up to 12 mice per 1 oz. block
- Kills up to 10 rats per 4 oz. block
- Ready to use
Bait boxes are another commonly used and effective option.
With these, all you need to do is add a scented poison to the inside compartment. A rat/mouse will enter seeking out the food, get trapped, and die.
- EFFECTIVE RAT CONTROL: Our outdoor rat bait station is designed to eliminate rat infestations effectively. It offers a secure and targeted solution for controlling rodents in outdoor spaces.
- DURABLE AND WEATHER-RESISTANT: Built to withstand outdoor conditions, our rat trap station is made from durable materials that provide long-lasting performance. It protects bait from the elements, ensuring optimal effectiveness.- Vertical (under the red tray) and Horizontal rods included.
- SAFE AND PET-FRIENDLY: With its pet-safe design, our rat bait station keeps your furry friends protected. It allows you to address rat issues without posing a risk to your pets or other non-target animals.
- VERSATILE APPLICATION: Our rat trap box is suitable for use in various outdoor settings, such as gardens, farms, warehouses, and more. It can be easily placed in strategic locations to target rat activity effectively.
- EASY TO USE AND MAINTAIN: Our outdoor rat bait station is user-friendly and hassle-free. It features a convenient design that allows for quick bait placement and easy monitoring. Regular checks ensure optimal rodent control. Bait NOT included
Electric traps can help you to bring the rat infestation under control. The traps are battery-powered.
Again they work by placing bait inside. This will attract a rat or mice, who will activate the trap by standing on the metal plate.
The rat is killed on the spot by an electric shock. These traps are popular because they kill rodents instantly and so are seen as more humane.
These traps are environmentally safe and make cleaning up a lot easier.
- The Humane Solution - Owltra is the humane solution for getting rid of large populations of rodents, as one set of 4 C batteries is enough to exterminate 60 rats. Featuring improved dual infrared sensors to protect kids and pets, Owltra ensures no false zaps. The no-escape design keeps the rodent in place while generating 6,000-10,000 of high-voltage shock for quick elimination.
- No-Mess Disposal - With magnetic latches, you’ll never have to touch or see the rodent. Simply pull off the trap's lid and empty the rodent in the trash. Owltra deactivates automatically when the the top is removed, allowing for safe and secure cleaning.
- Pet-safe Dual Infrared Sensor - The chamber is designed with two infrared sensors, one at the entrance and one at the back. Owltra only activates when it detects a rodent inside the trap—preventing false zaps while protecting children and small pets.
- Quick-Zap System - Our unique zap system guarantees 100% elimination without causing the rodent to suffer. It’s also a safer alternative to using poison and chemicals and can be placed anywhere inside your home or business.
- Convenient Bait Area - Lure rodents in by placing a pea-sized amount of bait at the back of the trap. Simply lift open the bait door and use a toothpick or cotton swab to apply bait on the trap's floor, opposite of the entrance. Baits high in protein, such as peanut butter, are recommended.
Snap traps are as popular as ever to get rid of rodents.
You put them in places you know rodents are moving. However, keep the traps away from your birds.
It is best to leave the traps out un-baited for a few days for the rats to get used to them.
Rats are cautious and intelligent and won’t approach a strange object straight away.
You can bait the traps after a while peanut butter is the most effective way to entice them.
- RAT TRAPS THAT WORK - Quick and easy to set, these extremely effective rodent traps can PROTECT YOUR HOME AND YARD FROM RATS, MICE, CHIPMUNK, VOLES, AND OTHER RODENTS in seconds.
- TAKE ACTION NOW - Don’t wait to strike back at rodents, RATS BREED FAST, a single female can have more than 14 young in a month! These QUICK KILL TRAPS stop rats fast!
- NO TOUCH EMPTYING - With a removable bait cup, and simple to use setting mechanism, you can easily set, empty, and reuse these traps without having to touch the jaws or caught rodents.
- POWERFUL RODENT KILLERS- With over 30% more force than traditional traps, a hair trigger sensor, and jaws designed to kill without breaking the skin, these big non toxic rodent trap are the ultimate protection against rats, gophers and other vermin..
- DON’T RISK RAT POISON - Rats and other rodents can destroy your home, these ultra-strength snap rat and vole traps protect your family from their damage and disease without putting them at risk from dangerous chemicals and poisons.
If you consider getting a cat to take care of your rodent problem, then you will want to get a large barn type.
These are better at dealing with rats which can be quite large and aggressive.
Small dogs like Terriers are excellent hunting dogs and are also well-equipped to deal with pests.
As you can see, there are a lot of options open and available to you.
What you use will ultimately depend on your coop, setup, and how you want to approach the infestation. You may even want to use several of these options.
Ultimately, it’s up to you.
Either way, eliminating rats and other vermin quickly is required to keep your birds safe.
Chickens can attract rats, but this has more to do with their feed than the birds themselves.
If you plan to keep chickens, you must do your due diligence and get a well-designed and constructed chicken coop. This is your bird’s first line of defense.
Once you have a suitable chicken coop, cleaning as you go is key to ensuring your flock’s safety from rats and other vermin.
Make sure that you clean up all spilled food by nightfall. Store feed away from the coop and make sure to put nesting boxes out of rats’ reach.
If you do all that you can do to clean the coop, you really shouldn’t have a severe infestation.
If you are currently dealing with a rat problem, there are several traps on the market, one of which will be able to work for you.
Failing this, there will be local extermination companies that would be more than happy to help you take care of your rat problem.
Chickens can stop laying if rats are present. This is because of the stress that rats, and other predators, can bring. Rats are known to steal eggs so you will soon notice if your hens quit laying and the supply begins to diminish. Other reasons why chickens may stop laying include when they molt and need to recover.
Rats will eat your chicken’s food. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons why keeping chickens attract rats in the first place. For this reason, it is imperative that you store feed appropriately and use specialized feeding dispensers. Also, be sure to never leave any uneaten and rotting food in the coop from any scraps you provide for too long. Clean them away and keep the coop fresh, clean, and hygienic at all times. This is because the smell can be detected by rodents, even from a long distance away.
Chickens can attract mice along with other rodents, who may be drawn to feed and water in your chicken coop. To keep these unwanted visitors at bay you, therefore, need to think carefully and strategically when setting up your chicken coop.
Wondering what else chickens may attract? Then my following guides are for you:
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.