How can I discourage rats from my feeders?

  1. How can you feed the birds in your garden without encouraging rats? We had a week of enjoyment of the birds using the table, ground feeder and hanging feeders. In our new garden. I put out enough food on the table and ground feeder for a couple of days at a time but the food in the feeders - mixed grains and seeds, Niger seeds, peanuts, fat balls, suet cakes and suet coconuts - tend to last longer. I last put food out on Monday and yesterday we saw a rat climbing the tree where 4 of the feeders are hung. Today it or another rat, is trying to get at the remaining suet cake on another tree. It's persistent and I would have removed the feeder but the sparrows have been feeding on it all morning too. Have you any tips, bar poison, that I can use to deter this beastie from competing with the birds for food
  • Hi Hazey, where you have feeders you will probably get rats and mice. You should take away all the feeders, sweep up and wash or turn over the soil where the food has dropped to the ground and clean your feeders (which should be done regularly). Wait a few days and introduce a couple of feeders to start with, in the meantime you could place one feeder somewhere different, as the birds know they are being fed, they can have something, It is all about the cleanliness, if food if left too long, the beasties will appear. Good luck.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Thank you so much Catlady. We never saw evidence of rats in the yard in our old house and put out bird food with no worries. Seeing the rat in broad daylight was a surprise but your advice is sound. I have stopped using the bird table and low feeder for the time being but I’ll take down the hanging feeders and do as suggested. Can’t turn the soil as it’s grass but I think most of the food is gone - the birds have seen to that. I don’t mind rats so long as they remain outdoors but I don’t want to encourage them to compete for food or possibly raid nests. We have a pair of blackbirds nesting in the hedge and rats could go after eggs or fledglings.
  • I have been feeding the birds for several years now and have never seen a rat around the feeders, although there was a dead one on the front lawn at one point. As you say you don't want them encouraged where you have nests. Enjoy the new babies when they arrive.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Hi Hazeyj,       One idea you could use to stop the rat accessing the feeders once they are reinstated is to use a free standing feeder pole with a baffle dome like in the photo below.      As long as you place it far enough away from shrubs/trees both rats and squirrels should not be able to reach the feeders.    


    Regards, Hazel 

    My Flickr. photo  link HERE 

  • Thank you Hazel, another great idea! Maybe I could get some sort of baffle-dome for the bird table too. This is my first day on the community site and I appreciate the help and suggestion very much.

  • Just an update: put the suet cake feeder up this morning & attracted Robins and sparrows but now there are three rats, juveniles, I'd guess, climbing on it! Time to take it down except a rat has got into it and can't get out! I'm too cowardly.....
  • We've been in this house for 2 weeks and have been told the rats are living under the decking! Guess it's a rip up job!
  • Now Hazey, scared of a rat, just pull it out! Joking really, I would be running for the hills! Oh dear, looks like you will have to wait a bit and try again, patience. You will get there.

    By the way I forgot to welcome you to the forum, apologies, so welcome from me in Caithness, up at the very top of Scotland. where is home for you?

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Good morning Catlady and thank you for the welcome! It's been lovely to be able to speak to people about problems and kind enough people to help!
    I live in St Helens in Merseyside - it was in Lancashire when my family moved from Edinburgh in 1967! I can't say I know Caithness but have been to Inverness, Dingwall and Alness and know it's a bit more northerly! You must get some cracking wildlife there. I remember seeing an otter near Oban and being so thrilled. Merseyside has other wildlife apart from rats but I've not seen an otter down here!
  • We are roughly two hours north of Inverness. All the usual garden birdies, tits, finches, blackbirds, starling, Robin, wren, Siskin, Dunnock, but no had others that are common elsewhere. The golf course is opposite the house and when out a walk there see different ones, but unsure what they are? There have been Jays spotted in Caithness and further west, into Sutherland there are Golden Eagles, never seen them though. The RSPB reserve in Forsinard is 20 miles further west, I have been to the centre but never gone on any of the walks, so there will be different things to see there and 20 miles east is the RSPB Dunnet Head, that has the puffins and all the sea birds. I went there at Puffin time but was too late they had left, so maybe one day. I don't know St. Helens at all.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.