New bird watcher - should I be worried about a rat?

Hi folks,

I grew up with a garden that was home to lots of birds and have just recently been enjoying more of the birds in my little garden as life has slowed down. 
Ive been putting out peanuts and seeds and fat balls and some dried worms and get a lovely variety of birds coming by. Woodpigeons, sparrows, magpies, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, blackbirds, song thrushes, dunnocks, green finches, bullfinches, chaffinches, red wings, a juvenile pied wagtail (that ive not seen for a week )  and probably others that I don’t recognise yet. The sparrowhawk has had a feast here before and the oystercatchers have come back to nest in the nearby flat roofs. I love hearing them call. 
Sadly I’m wondering if it all needs to stop as we have a rat that is frequenting (and possibly setting up home in the shed). We used to have a mouse in winter in there and it didn’t bother us too much. I’ve wanted to encourage wildlife - hedgehogs etc. So the question is. Do I need to worry about having a rat? Is their bad reputation justified? If I do want rid then would taking the food in just at night be a reasonable middle ground? Anyone else got stories to share. Would love to hear how other people dealt with it and any wisdom there is to share. 
thanks 

ali 

  • I am no expert but when I bought my feeders I bought the ones with guardian cage and tray to minimise falling seed to the ground. I have read posts on here before suggesting taking the feeders down for a couple or more weeks with the idea no food no rats, do you keep bird food in the shed ? If so it’s likely they may be nesting in there. I keep my bird food in plastic tubs with lids in the garage.
    Hope this helps but I am sure you will get a lot more reply’s
  • hello Ali, and my commiserations. Are you in the countryside or town? If your house stands alone, you've got a chance to get rid of your rat [and you'll need to get rid of it because soon it won't just be one rat, but a whole family]. If you live in town, things are more complicated. I've had to give up feeding our birds. It started with one rat on the compost heap, and ended up with several families of them moving into our multi-storey house, living between floor boards and ceilings It cost half a fortune to eradicate them, but now they are moving back because our Council - NNDC - isn't really doing very much about the general rat plague in town, and also because most houses here are holiday homes standing empty half of the year, with nobody in them to notice rats crawling up the drain pipes, entering through roof gaps, and travelling happily from one roof to another, thus invading ever more houses.
    We were instructed not to put bird feeders out - and indeed I've seen rats climb up the trees and branches from where I had hung my bird feeders. I have now resorted to just two [no-spill] feeders that are suspended from the wall of the house, away from any branches. I notice birds don't really like using them because they are more exposed to predators [sparrowhawks].
    Hope you'll find a solution to your problem...
  • Just reading the previous post by I Love Robins. yes of course, proper storage of bird seed is important, but rats also happily gnaw through plastic tubs so I would not keep those in a wooden garden shed.
    most of the time, at least in our case, it was not so much the spilling of seed that attracted rats, but the fact that they could so easily access the feeders because they are excellent climbers.