Rats in the Chook house

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the.fee.fairy
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Rats in the Chook house

Post: #255863 the.fee.fairy
Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:08 pm

My sister has chickens and she's worried that rats are getting into the chook run.

The bedding in the house has been moved, but she said that there is a 'chicken shaped' hole in the middle (nest i'd imagine). Apparently, she's been finding eggs in the run rather than in the house.

She hasn't found any rat poo anywhere, but it looks like they could be gettign into the greenhouse (next to the chook house).

The Chicken house is a solid shed built on a cement base (the base also has gravel and glass under the cement layer) which has then been paved over. It used to be an aviary. Rats didn't get into the aviary from the base.

The house opens out into a run on the lawn (ha! Used to be a lawn...) and there's no evidence of rats there.

So...is it rats?
Is it a chicken chucking the others out to lay in the run?
Any ideas?

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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #255878 Odsox
Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:18 pm

If there were rats about, she would know all about it as they are obvious when they are there.
I get rats in now and again, but it is usually early winter when they try it, now they should be back out in the countryside again.

Chicken on the other hand just love to nest anywhere except where they're supposed to. If there is a nice quiet nook outside, they will lay there in preference to indoors ... even when it rains. Trouble is, once they start laying "away" it's difficult to break them of the habit, usually means keeping them shut in till mid afternoon.
But probably not rats.
Tony

Disclaimer: I almost certainly haven't a clue what I'm talking about.

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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #255961 Henwoman
Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:47 am

If there are rats you often see a "rat run" which is a narrow trail which the rats use on a regular basis, also droppings.

Certainly hens do often lay away from the nesting box and I've often found 12-15 eggs in a little outside makeshift nest which I knew nothing about.

I shouldn't worry - I think you'll know if there are rats about.

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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #256046 the.fee.fairy
Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:07 am

I have passed your comments to her, thank you!

She said that she found what looked like a trench in the run that had eggs in it, so she wasn't sure whether the chickens had made it to lay in, or whether rats had been trying to carry away eggs (i had pet rats and i can't imagine them being able to carry an egg and run).

I'll let you know if she says anything else :icon_smile:

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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #257279 dave45
Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:03 pm

Rats are attracted to chicken houses coz of the free food. 1-foot underground mesh fencing aint enough to stop them tunnelling their way in. You have to keep looking for signs. Any hole the size of a 20p (or is it 50p?) and they'll get in. If no holes they will tunnel. Hang your chicken feeder up high at night. The b'stards even chewed thru the bottom of the plastic dustbin I was keeping my feed in.

Best option is to get a proper bait box and poison bait and leave it OUTSIDE the fence... if the bait is taken you have rats.

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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #260012 Bjarvis2785
Mon May 07, 2012 8:16 pm

Hi all,

I've just come across this post after a quick search on google.
I have, tonight, spotted a rat (more like a bear if you ask me!) helping himself to the chicken food in our back garden.

We leave the chicken feeder just outside the run during the day time and then put it away in the garage once the chickens have gone to bed.
I was just about to walk out the back door when I spotted this rat running from behind our garage down the bottom of the garden and over to the feeder, then back...3 times.

Chickens are now locked up for the night, food in the feeder has now been disposed of and some rat poison put down under an upturned bucket with small hole cut out (so chickens can't get at it of course).

We've had the unfortunate pleasure of rats previously which ended up in me pulling up around 25sq/m of decking over Xmas period!

Last time we had them the local rat guy said it was because they were safe under the decking due to the fact not predators could get them.

The moral of this rather long winded post is to tell your sister if she does suspect them, make sure she has nowhere they can hide.
Piles of rubble, wood, long grass/weeds etc

Clear it all, it makes it much more difficult for them.

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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #260361 kyj
Sun May 13, 2012 11:07 am

Rats (and mice) in the chook house is always a problem here. I had a couple of rats last week, one had taken bait and was dead, the other was very much alive in a bag of shredded paper I use for nest boxes. I stamped on the bag in my size 9 boots until it stopped moving.
In the past I got three mice with a corn scoop and in the house brained a rat with a dog bowl (admittedly we decided afterwards that it was already moribund from bait, but never let the truth get in the way of a good story).
Normally I don't like killing things but these little blighters turn in me into a murderer.

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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #260371 Big Al
Sun May 13, 2012 4:55 pm

Like others have said you will know if you have rats simply because they are creatures of habbit. They like to keep to the outside of an area such as a fence or wall. They will leave a greasy mark on the said wall etc about 2" up as they run close to the wall.

Prevention is better than cure. Lift the feed up and bring indoors at night. Also move the water if you can because rats still need to drink. Rats will chew through anything other than galvanised wire of 1/2" x 1" or 13mm x 25mm. This site http://www.meshdirect.co.uk/Wire-Mesh-13-x-25mm-Holes-1-2-inch-x-1-inch-c-24.html has an example and although I haven't bought off these people I have spoke to them and I will be buying from them soon.

Rats will get through any size hole that is larer than a 20p piece so bear this in mind when you make the fence. To ensure the run is rat proof you need to make sure the mesh goes down at least 150mm and preferably 300mm into the soil.

Bjarvis2785 wrote:Chickens are now locked up for the night, food in the feeder has now been disposed of and some rat poison put down under an upturned bucket with small hole cut out (so chickens can't get at it of course).


I would caution greatly doing this as chickens are extremely curious and even nosy blighters. They will soon get rid of the bucket and get to the poison.

As an example I have part of my coup with only chicken wire on. The chickens were seen laying by the fence, one after the other and over the days they were gradually laying on the wire. Then the pushed the wire out of the way and escaped.

Once rounded up they were well miffed when I put wood in the place of the mesh.

Good luck but i doubt you have rats for now.
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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #260524 Stonehead
Tue May 15, 2012 5:07 pm

Agreed about rats gnawing through just about anything. We had an incursion last year when rats gnawed their way through the mortar in a three-foot thick stone wall, letting in a lot of water when it rained.

Our infestations almost always coincide with the two neighbouring farms clearing their cattle courts in spring. Air rifle, Fenn traps in artificial tunnels and a terrier generally do for the rats. I seldom resort to poison as we have a pair of goshawks around the croft, plus pine martens. Not to mention our dog and the chickens.
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Re: Rats in the Chook house

Post: #261030 ktibble
Mon May 21, 2012 6:00 pm

I have previously heard the phrase that If you keep chickens then you keep rats.

We have had a long battle of trying almost everything to get rid of the except for poison, because we don't like the idea of the dogs finding a dead rat and eating it (as you do!)

After making traps, bating bins, using an air rifle, buying expensive elaborate cage traps, (all with varying degrees of success for differing periods of time - rats aren't stupid) we finally found some traditional spring operated traps that work every time without fail and have almost rid us completely of the issue. We set them at night and collect them in before we let the chickens out in the morning!!!

Have to say I also agree with the "prevention comment" - empty the water bowls at night and take the feed indoors / in the chicken house if they are secure!


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