Are rats digging under your chicken coop causing damage and stressing out your chickens?
Rats and other small rodents can be pretty annoying - and persistent - but there are a few simple things you can do to stop them.
Here are my tips for ridding your yard of rats and plugging up any holes they've chewed!
- 4 Steps To Stop Rats Digging Under Chicken Coop
- 1. Clear the Area Around Your Coop (and Raise It if Possible)
- 2. Cut Off Any Food Sources
- 3. Rat-Proof Your Coop and Fill Any Holes
- 4. Use Traps or Call in The Professionals
- Are Rats a Danger to Chickens?
- Are Rats Attracted to Chicken Coops?
- Will Rats Steal Chicken Eggs?
- In Summary
4 Steps To Stop Rats Digging Under Chicken Coop
1. Clear the Area Around Your Coop (and Raise It if Possible)
Rats like to live in cluttered, dark areas - so the first step to keeping them away from your chicken coop is to clean up any potential homes they could be using.
This means trimming back any bushes or grass that's close to the coop, and removing any piles of debris, wood, or leaves.
Ideally, you want to have a clear line of sight all around your coop.
This might disturb some nests they've already made, and it'll make it more difficult for the rats to make new nests.
Most coops are built elevated off the ground for this reason. Assuming your coop isn't and that's why they're burrowing underneath, I'd consider raising your coop to solve this issue once and for all.
Related - More on why it makes sense to elevate a coop.
2. Cut Off Any Food Sources
The main reason why rats and other rodents are approaching your chicken coop in the first place is in search of food.
Rats are scavengers and will eat just about anything - so if you're not careful, your chicken feed can become an all-you-can-eat buffet for them.
To prevent this from happening, make sure to store chicken feed in a metal bin with a lid that rats can't chew through.
And don't forget to clean up any scraps, secure your trash, and scan the area for anything that rats might possibly smell or try eating.
3. Rat-Proof Your Coop and Fill Any Holes
The next step is to fortify your coop and perimeter and plug all the holes those pesky rats have made.
There aren't many materials rats cannot chew through, but you can certainly make it incredibly difficult for them.
A combination of steel wool and wire mesh or some durable hardware cloth has proven to be the most effective way of keeping rats out or anything!
If you stuff any holes with steel wool and dig down a few inches and add a layer of mesh or cloth around your coop the rats will have to find a different way in.
4. Use Traps or Call in The Professionals
Stopping the rats from entering your chicken coop is all well and good, but it doesn't stop them scurrying around your yard.
You need to purge the area of rats once and for all!
This isn't as hard as people tend to think, as long as you've cut off the food sources once the numbers dwindle you will be able to get the rat population under control.
I suggest using traps. Rat traps are very effective, it's just a case of which types of traps you want to use.
You'll need to make sure they're safe to use around chickens, of course, but I'm sure it won't take long to start removing rats from your yard.
If you don't want to get your hands dirty, you could just call in the professionals and leave it up to them!
Related - More tips for keeping raccoons, weasels, and other pests away from your coop!
Are Rats a Danger to Chickens?
Rats can pose a danger to your chickens, but it's usually not as serious as people think.
Rats can transmit diseases to chickens - though this is rare - and will also eat chicken eggs.
The biggest danger rats pose to chickens, however, is stress.
Chickens that are constantly being harassed by rats tend to be more prone to illness and have a lower rate of egg production.
So, while rats might not kill your chickens outright, they can certainly cause some issues - not mention damaging their coop and other items in your yard.
Are Rats Attracted to Chicken Coops?
It's not your chicken's coop that rats are attracted to per se, it's the odors and a rat's natural instinct to be drawn to food that attracts them.
This is why you'll see some people recommending using strong scents rats don't like; but I've never found that to be an effective way of stopping rats.
If you want to rid your yard of rats for good (and other pests), it's crucial that you lock down all possible food sources and keep your entire yard free from scraps, trash, and anything else that might be food for rats.
Will Rats Steal Chicken Eggs?
It's possible for rats to steal chicken eggs, although they're more likely to break eggs open and eat them (while making a lot of mess!) where they find them.
If you think eggs are disappearing from your nesting boxes, it may well be rats, but it also might be a snake or some other, larger predator.
If rats are digging under your chickens' coop, don't despair!
By cleaning up the area around your coop, removing all possible food sources, fortifying your coop, and waging war on the rats in your yard you can put a stop to those annoying rats!