RATS!

Can anyone give me the benefit of their wisdom as to how to have birdfeeders in the garden without attracting rats to scavenge the stuff that falls to the ground?

  • Hi, I had the same problem some years ago. The local council will tell you that there is no sure fire way of keeping the rats at bay. I used to hang the feeders on confer trees and this was ideal for the rats as it provided them with a run to access the food. I have since moved the feeders into the open attached to either feeding station or brid table and they don't seem to come near the food.

    So, maybe try moving your feeders in to the open or somewhere more difficult for them to gain acess.

    anail a'Gháidheal, air a' mhullach

  • Hi Marigold,

    As has already been mentioned, moving feeders into a more open area might help deter rats. They don't like crossing open spaces and much prefer to stay in cover.

    Have you also tried adding chilli powder to your bird food? This doesn't affect the birds in any way, they can't even taste it. However the rats certainly can and after getting a mouthful of madras strength sunflower seeds they might look elsewhere.

    Thirdly, consider when you feed the birds and how much you put out. Rats are (mostly) nocturnal so by putting food out in the morning you will give more time for your feathered friends to eat the food before your furry foes put in an appearance. And by dropping the amount you put out slightly, you can make sure there is no food left over in the evening when the rats come out to dine.

    Hope these suggestions have helped

    Reedbed, freshwater scrapes, saltmarsh and wet meadow. Frampton Marsh has it all! Come and pay us a visit soon.

  • In reply to Chris Andrews:

    chris andrews said:

    after getting a mouthful of madras strength sunflower seeds they might look elsewhere.

    Lol! Fortunately I don't have a rat problem but do have hedgehogs visit each night and they always check the area below the feeders for spill or leftover sultanas I've put out! Not sure what hedgehogs would make of curry powder!! :-}

    "All weeds are flowers, once you get to know them" (Eeyore)

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  • Hi

    You could try using 'no mess' bird food. This is seed that has had the husks removed so there is less spillage. Alternatively you could fit trays to your feeders to intercept spillage. Have a look at the birdcare range on the RSPB website for some ideas.

    All the best

    Rob

  • In basic terms, rats are attracted to food. Any food that is left out, and easily accessed, can and will be taken by rats, thereby keeping the population fed and sustained. Rats can be a serious risk to health, especially to children.  They can destroy and contaminate food stores and carry many forms of disease including salmonella and Weils Disease through their droppings and urine, some of which can be fatal to humans, although this is very rare.

    Rats move quickly and are excellent climbers and have no problem climbing vertical brick walls, fences or trees and bushes.  They are also active burrowers and like to build nests in compost heaps or underneath hedges, sheds and decking. They are mainly active at night and feed on a range of commodities - they are omnivores, meaning they will eat virtually anything and they are particularly fond of seeds, grains and wheat - obviously common in many bird feeds. 

    There are a few things you can try to prevent rats -

    • Keep your property in a good state of repair and close small gaps.  A rat can get through a space as small as 10mm high.
    • Clearing areas which could provide nests or shelter
    • Covering the ends of exposed downpipes with chickenwire or other suitable material as rats will use downpipes as a means of climbing to roof spaces.

    Special attention should be given to compost heaps which should be kept contained and tidy.  While rodents are active no food waste should be placed on a compost heap unless the compost is stored in a lidded composter.

    While you have active rats in the area, bring in all the food. Only once the rats have been eradicated from the area should you begin to think about putting food out again for the birds. When you do decide to put food out again, do so in a way that makes it impossible for the rats to get to it e.g. use hanging feeders, away from overhanging branches or close to fences or walls. Catch the seeds that drop from the feeders by placing a bucket or similar underneath, then dispose of this at the end of each day so there is no food left overnight to attract the rats. Removal of food, water and shelter will deny rodents their main requirements for survival, and this is the key to solving rat problems.  

     

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  • In reply to somhairle:

    Thank you for the advise. I am waiting for the council to come to deal with the rats and I am not adding more waist to my compost or leaving the feeders out at night. I am following all the tips given in this blog.

    Thank you again.

    Hutcheson said:

    Hi, I had the same problem some years ago. The local council will tell you that there is no sure fire way of keeping the rats at bay. I used to hang the feeders on confer trees and this was ideal for the rats as it provided them with a run to access the food. I have since moved the feeders into the open attached to either feeding station or brid table and they don't seem to come near the food.

    So, maybe try moving your feeders in to the open or somewhere more difficult for them to gain acess.

     

  • In reply to Rockwolf:

    We have rats................we also have hedgehogs feeding off our ground feeders so am reluctant to put down poison.  I have built a hibernation box for the hedgehogs (known as hog-warts castle), was wondering if to wait until hedgehog activity has stopped for hibernation and then deal with the rats?  In the meantime have left it to one of our elderly cats, although she doesn't tend to trouble birds these days she had 3 rats out of the garden yesterday and is still sitting under the apple tree now (9:45 PM), Go Boots go!!!

    "Feed the birds, tuppence a bag" Mary Poppins

  • Unfortunately we have just got a rat in our garden.  It came from down the road, were a boarded up pub has been bought and is being worked on so the rats that lived there have now moved down the road to our housing area.

     

    I think the rat that visits us wants to break all the stereotypes.  We cut back the large tree in our garden leaving a large open area and put all the hanging feeders there.  He seems to have no problem crossing the open area.  He also appears to be active mostly during the day! 

     

    I don't believe in poisons as they are in-discriminatory and we have hedgehogs and cats that come through our garden.  He also seems smart enough to avoid the humane trap we bought - we have baited it with rat bait / chocolate / peanut butter.... etc etc.  Unfortunately the only thing we have caught is hedgehogs! 

     

    It's so frustration as I get a stack of bird seeds ready for autumn/winter but now I can't add any more with this little critter running around. 

     

    I think the only option here left to me is adding chilli powder to the bird food and the bird seed that is already on the floor. 

     

    I've also heard that rats don't like cat nip - has anyone heard this / tried this?

  • Hi there, I hope you don't mind me resurrecting this old thread.

    I've been feeding birds in our garden for several years, have quite a few hanging feeders which seem to be fine.  I also have a mesh ground basket / table for feeding the ground birds.  A problem has arisen this week - we've seen a rat making his way towards the little table thing (he's living under a wooden raised bed on the patio.)  Obviously, we're going to do something to get rid of him (not at all sentimental where rats & mice are concerned, sorry!), but want to deter future invaders.

    Now, I really don't want to stop putting stuff out for backbirds etc., but I don't want to feed ratty & his extended family - I was thinking about getting one of those feeding stations (like this one http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/p/BirdAccessories/Bird_feeding_station.htm) but only if my ground birds will use it.

    Does anyone have any experience with these stations? It seems to have a nice little tray for the mealworms, and for water, and with being raised up I could even try to fit a baffle....

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks

    Vik

  • In reply to darwin51:

    Hi Vik and welcome to the forum. All my regular "ground feeders"  (blackbirds, thrushes and dunnocks) are quite happy to dine at my bird tables which are some 4 feet off the ground.

    The necessity of bird-watching is a really good reason for avoiding all forms of housework.

    The dust will still be there tomorrow - the birds may not be!