i lost all of my chicken flock to rats last fall as soon as i got rid of my roo (illegal here in portland and someone complained). chickens were secure, but i kept finding them picked clean and all these little holes dug up in the middle of their 30'x40' run from the ground out, and i found a couple of rats floating in the duck water. i had half-hoped that with the chickens and their feed gone, they would move along, but portland is a port town and that equals rats, it seems, as i have been seeing them in broad daylight hanging out under my bird feeders!
some have suggested i get a rat terrier. others have suggested a cat. i already have a siamese cat and a siberian husky but they are both pretty lazy! i'd rather not use poison as i don't want my pets to get into it too. thinking about a terrier, but i do not want to get another animal for a specific job if it's possible they will not kill the rats. looking forward to hearing your ideas!
I did an in-depth search regarding rats last winter when we had a creature that I was sure was a rat chew a hole into our wood siding and move into our house. The video below is a man describing and reviewing a particular rat trap. He is quite interesting, actually. He has done many, many videos testing all kinds of traps, both ancient and modern. Anyway, he says that this one works very well:
The one thing that I would do is add some hard liquor such as vodka to the water to have the drowning happen much faster and perhaps in a more oblivious way for the rats. We aren't trying to have them suffer, after all.
I experienced something similar with Rabbits - they ate them alive, through the wire! There is no "getting rid of rats"; only control and protection.
Floors must either be concrete or triple wired with hardware cloth. Metal roofing (new or recycled) surrounding the first three feet (minimum, 4-5 is better), then hardware cloth for the upper portion and roof. Coop must also be on concrete, metal roofing on top for roof and on sides.
The only other alternative is hardware cloth (welded wire, 1cm or half inch openings) that is electrified, or has the addition of electrified netting.
The good news is this will ensure the flock is safe from everything (mink, rats, raccoon, birds of prey, lynx, bobcat...).
Rat traps are generally activated by simply running over the trap that is in their way, rather then attracted to bait. Standard snap traps can be "improved" with the addition of a couple of screws, protruding, upwards from the underside, through, on either side of the "bait" - this ensures a quick death as the rat is impaled on the spikes (screws) when the snap arm comes down.
Lastly, keep feed in a dead freezer, DO NOT scatter feed, keep feed to as confined a space as possible as it alone is a rodent attractant.
Metal roofing is chew proof, climb proof and essentially maintenance free. We use it for animal enclosures, perimeter fencing, compost bins, and of course, roofs.
Lorinne Anderson: Specializing in sick, injured, orphaned and problem wildlife for over 20 years.
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