If you own a flock of chickens then keeping them safe will be one of your main priorities. Any pet that is left outside is going to need extra thought. When it comes to chickens predators and other vermin will be a potential concern. But what about rats? Will keeping chickens naturally draw them and is there anything you can do to prevent this occurrence if it already has? I decided to do some research. I would like to share this with you today.
Do chickens attract rats? Chickens can attract rats. This mostly happens when food and water is left out for a long time. The food and water will begin to smell after a while, and the smell will attract rats. If your chicken coop is not adequately built and secure, rats can make their way inside very quickly and may help themselves to the eggs. They may attack the younger birds.
Chickens may not ask for much, but making sure that their coop is clean and organised is the least you could do for them, aside from feeding them.
Your birds’ coop and any other area they access must be dry. The coop must also be well ventilated and free of litter because the alternative will only attract unwanted visitors.
Let us now take a closer look at the topic. We will even cover some practical strategies to keep rats at bay so be sure to continue to the end to ensure you get all the information you need!
Does Keeping Chickens Cause Rats?
This concern is understandable for many new chicken keepers. It is likely you have even observed a correlation early on in your chicken-keeping days.
You may have seen rats and other rodents around your property, or more shockingly, within the coop itself. Perhaps you’ve even noticed eggs missing that you cannot account for.
Thankfully, it is not necessarily the practice of keeping chickens that attracts rats to your property. Instead, its very likely to be chicken food – how it is presented and stored.
Therefore, if you take the necessary steps to prevent rats, you will have no problems with them in the future.
First and foremost, you must make sure that you have a well-designed chicken coop and use appropriate vermin-proof feeders.
Having a well designed, and secure coop will prevent rats from having access to food, water, and eggs.
Rats enjoy living close to humans, as we are an unlimited resource of food and warmth for them. Even if you didn’t keep chickens, you, as a human being, may have an issue with rats at some point in your lifetime.
With chickens, you are naturally increasing your chances of rats and other rodents. You are providing additional opportunity and extra spaces for vermin to obtain the food and warmth they need.
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 set up – 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 owners.
Prevention is always better than cure, so it is best to limit the chances of rats and other rodents in the first place.
Once you have a well-designed chicken coop, you must approach cleaning in an intentional way to prevent these harmful rodents.
The key is to minimize food waste and keep food sources out of easy reach.
Some easy and practical measures include:
- Clean up all spilt 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
Will Rats Attack Chickens?
Rats typically prey on young chickens and eggs, but if food is scarce and the infestation is severe, they will also attack adult birds.
Having a well-built chicken coop is your flocks’ first line of defense, and there are some essential features your coop needs to prevent rats attacking chickens, especially their 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 rats’ 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 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 forever.
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.
These bait blocks off Amazon have great reviews. They can lure rats/mice away due to a scent attractant and they even fit in bait boxes.
Bait boxes are another commonly used and effective option.
This set of 2 bait boxes from Amazon, are the kind you should look to add near or around your coop.
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.
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, whom 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. PestZilla is one of the best brands available on Amazon.
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. Tomcat are a great option, which you can get for an excellent price on Amazon.
Humane traps are one way to catch a rat, but once you have found one, now what?
You must have a plan when using these traps and know how you are going to deal with the rat and where you will relocate him, or they are bound to return.
The best humane traps are made out of heavy duty metal.
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 whom 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, its 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 birds 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 spilt 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 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.
Do rats stop chickens laying? Yes, 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 in why chickens may stop laying include when they molt and need to recover.
Do chickens attract mice? Yes, chickens do attract mice along with other rodents. These are looking for potential food and water sources which are likely present 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.
Do rats eat chicken food? Yes, rats will eat your chickens food. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons in why keeping chickens attracts rats in the first place. For this reason it is imperative that you store feed appropriately, use specialized feeding dispensers and make use of hanging waterer’s. 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.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.