Rat-proof bird feeder? Help please!!

Hello all,

This is my first post, but I really need some help if anyone can provide any!

Last winter I was unfortunate enough to have rats in my home for the first time - a thoroughly unpleasant experience. 

Although the advice from the pest controllers was to stop feeding the birds, I was very reluctant to do this - not only because of the pleasure it gives me, but because I didn't want to remove a food source the birds had come to rely on in the middle of winter.

I tried to minimise the problem by having three separate feeders for nyjer seed, sunflower hearts and peanuts, by "customising" the feeders with trays underneath to catch the waste, and by siting them over a tarpaulin which I am able to sweep easily. 

The feeders are in an apple tree at the far end of the garden, about 15 metres from the house.

I've had no further problems since until yesterday when I spotted a new unwelcome visitor - a rat in broad daylight climbing the tree trunk to reach and feast from the feeders. It's back again today.

I really don't want to stop feeding the birds but I can't see an alternative now. Apart from anything else, I assume the birds will be at risk of disease passed on from the rats.

Please can anyone offer any advice at all?

Many thanks in advance.

Sandpipa.

  • Hello Sandpipa - welcome to the forum.  Really sorry to hear about your dilemma.

    I wish I knew how to put a link in for you to this post, as there are posts on this site from others who have had the same problem (me included!) and in return some really good advice has been given.  Basically you need to stop feeding the birds for a while (it's not so cold at the moment and there is still natural food for the birds so they will survive for a couple of weeks) or try moving your feeders away from areas where the rats can climb - as rats feel vulnerable coming into the open.  Your rat is obviously a bold one if is out during the day.

    I'm sorry I can't be of more help but I'm sure someone on here will be able to - Good luck!

    Regards

    Kerry

     http://www.flickr.com/photos/kezmo6310/

  • In reply to Kezmo:

    Hi Kezmo,

    Thanks a lot for that. I've done a search  and I think I've found most of the other advice on rats but I'm still stumped, to be honest.

    My feeders are in as open a site as I've got. I did try adding lots of chilli powder to the seed last year when I had a squirrel problem. It did nothing to deter the squirrels - just made me sneeze a lot! - so I'm a bit sceptical as to whether the reaction from the rat(s) would be any different. 

    The only thing I can think of is to find some kind of truly rat-proof feeder, or else attach it to some kind of super-slippery pole the rats just  can't climb up... Does such a thing exist?!

    I just can't risk having rats in my house again so unless I can find a solution it'll be a sad goodbye to the feathered friends in my garden.

    Thanks again,

    Sandpipa.

  • In reply to Sandpipa:

    Welcome to the forum Sandpipa!

    The only thing I can think of is to buy one of those 'feeding stations' which the rat would struggle to climb I think! My parents have one in their garden which is well used (after a couple of weeks of nothing as it was 'new' and 'different'!, but the birds soon got used to it!!)

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

    My photos on Flickr

  • In reply to Rockwolf:

    Rockwolf said:

    Welcome to the forum Sandpipa!

    The only thing I can think of is to buy one of those 'feeding stations' which the rat would struggle to climb I think! My parents have one in their garden which is well used (after a couple of weeks of nothing as it was 'new' and 'different'!, but the birds soon got used to it!!)

     

    Unfortunately the rats can climb the feeding stations too!  I had to stop feeding the birds because of rats, my feeders and feeding station have since been donated to a nearby school I'm volunteering at so at least some birds somewhere benefit!

     

    Millie & Fly the Border Collies

  • In reply to KatTai:

    Wouldn't some sort of 'baffle' halfway up the pole stop them? I'm really amazed actually as the pole is so smooth!! Just goes to show how 'clever' (if annoying) these creatures are!

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

    My photos on Flickr

  • In reply to Rockwolf:

    Rockwolf said:

    Wouldn't some sort of 'baffle' halfway up the pole stop them? I'm really amazed actually as the pole is so smooth!! Just goes to show how 'clever' (if annoying) these creatures are!

    Never got the chance to try a baffle because of the neighbours complaining.  I don't get on with them as it is because they let their dogs foul the garden and their kids tear up the plants.  Something like that should work though as long as it is high enough up, but I'm only short so that would place the feeders too high for me to reach anyway!

    Millie & Fly the Border Collies

  • The key thing to note when trying to prevent attracting rats is to ensure that they cannot get access to food - prevent food from reaching the floor. Use collection trays below hanging feeders and if you have a bird table its worth having a raised edge around the sides, again to stop food from being spilt onto the floor.

     

    ·           Cones and baffles fixed on to the string of a hanging feeder – plastic soft drink bottles, large domes and disks around the centre pole. http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/p//M-SQUIRRELGUARD.htm

    ·           If feeder is hung from washing line, thread line through a length of hosepipe or a plastic coke bottle on each side.

    ·            Downward opening cone or a biscuit tin fixed to the pole below the bird table to prevent them climbing up it. Vaseline or other grease on a smooth pole will also help.

    ·            Remember that all these methods will only work if the squirrel/rat cannot jump directly onto the feeder, but will have to approach via the defended route.

    ·            Feeders with a cage around them are resistant, although not entirely proof, and a small individual will be able to fit through. http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/p/BirdFeeders/M-GUARDIANS.htm

    ·           Chili powder can be dusted onto birdfood. Birds are not bothered by the chili, but squirrels and rats cannot put up with the burning sensation, and will leave the food alone.

     

    Hope that helps!

  • In reply to LloydScott:

    Thanks for the replies, all.

    Lloyd, as I said, I've tried chilli previously and it had no effect whatsoever, at least on squirrels - interesting to note. 

    I also prevent any food from falling to the floor with trays beneath the feeders.

    Reluctantly I've stopped feeding the birds for the time being - I  simply cannot risk rats in my home again.

    I'll wait for a few weeks and then try to rig up some kind of stand-alone feeder as suggested with some kind of baffle. These creatures are so incredibly agile, though, I wouldn't put anything past them!

    Cheers!

    Sandpipa.

     

     

  • Hi Everyone,

    This is also my first post, for the very same problem as Sandpipa!

    Having just invested in squirrel proof feeders, having spent a fortune replacing the eaten ones I  now have a new problem......

    Rats, that work themselves inside the cage and are feasting merrily on the bird food. I have just caught three and having disturbed them I cannot believe their agility. They literally jump into the air and seem to fly to reach ground level.  They seem to climb great heights efortlessly and I am at a loss what to do. I am not so sure that rats feeding in the day time is so unusual!

    I also don't want to stop feeding the birds as I would feel so guilty not being able to explain to them why their food has vanished!

    Any advice, or a rat proof feeder would be so greatly appreciated.

     

     

     

     

  • In reply to woodpecker:

    Rats are extremely clever and agile when it comes to food, so you have to be smarter than them - think about where your feeders are - move them away from fences, walls, overhanging trees etc, use poles to hang your feeders from, smear oil, vaseline, grease up the pole AND fit a baffle - make it as hard as you possibly can for them to get to the food - there's no such thing as a rat-proof feeder i'm afraid, the trick is stopping them from getting to the feeder in the first place and thinking about things that are likely to attract them into your garden e.g. compost heaps, litter, waste bird food etc

    You might find more helpful information in this thread

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