How To Get Rid Of Rats In The Chicken Coop? (Expert Advice)

Are rats getting into your chicken coop? If the answer is yes, you really need to address this issue because rats can pose a danger to your chickens and their overall health and the health of the coop as a whole. Plus, rats can also pose a risk to any humans that are constantly entering the coop, whether to collect eggs, fill the feeders and waterers, or clean the coop.

Why Are Rats Attracted To Chicken Coops?

Rats are opportunistic feeders and have the ability to survive on a variety of different foods. For this reason, rats are attracted to your chicken coop because they are keen to feast on the food that you leave out for your chickens.

This is especially the case if there are layer pellets scattered over the ground around the coop or you have a habit of throwing food scraps into the coop for the chickens to feast on. Unfortunately, if there are rats in or near your yard, your chickens might not be the only ones feasting on these scraps.

Apart from this, during the colder months of the year, rats may be attracted to your chicken coop because they realize that the coop provides shelter and warmth. Not to mention all the lovely nesting materials that you might use to keep your chickens comfortable and warm. 

Lastly, rats are actually attracted to the scent of chicken droppings. While this may sound a bit gross, these droppings can actually provide a valuable source of protein for the rats.

One more thing to be aware of is that rats are able to kill young chickens as another possible food source for them.

What Are The Dangers Of Having Rats In The Chicken Coop?

As already mentioned, rats pose a huge health risk to both you and your chickens. Here are the most important dangers posed by having rats in your chicken coop.

  • If you have young chickens, rats do have the ability to attack and kill them. This is especially the case if you don’t have a rooster protecting your coop.
  • Rats can easily contaminate your chicken feed and water with their urine and droppings, and this can lead to health problems for your hens.
  • It’s also common knowledge that rats carry diseases such as salmonella and avian influenza. These diseases can easily be transmitted to both humans and chickens.
  • Rats are also known to gnaw through just about anything. This can include some of the structural elements of your coop as well as any electrical wiring that might be present. This could essentially lead to a fire risk.

What Are The Most Probable Ways That Rats Get Into Your Chicken Coop?

There are many ways that rats can get access to your chicken coop. Due to their size, they are able to squeeze through any small holes or gaps in the walls, roof, or floor of the coop. In fact, they can even squeeze through the holes in chicken wire or netting.

It’s also common for rats to burrow under the fence that’s surrounding your coop. Rats are very good at digging because they often live in burrows in the ground.

The other thing that rats are good at is climbing. They can easily climb up and over chicken enclosure fences or even climb up a tree that is growing nearby and then jump over the fence. In fact, rats are actually able to jump up to 3 feet high.

Once the rats have gained access to your chicken coop, they may decide to stay and breed, especially if there is plenty of food and water available.

This is why it’s vital that you get rid of any rats that you see as quickly and expediently as possible. If the rats have a chance to breed inside the coop, you could end up with a much larger problem than you can deal with.

This is because female rats can produce up to 5 litters each year, with up to 8 young rats in each litter. As you can imagine, this can equate to a lot of rats in just a short period of time.

Effective Ways To Get Rid Of Rats In Your Chicken Coop

If you’ve seen rats in the chicken coop or you suspect that they may be present, here are numerous ways that you can get rid of them as quickly as possible.

Using Traps

One of the best ways to get rid of rats in your coop is to use snap traps that will trap the rats and/or mice so that you can then safely dispose of them. You can bait these with a small piece of cheese or try peanut butter, which is particularly attractive to rats.

However, you need to be careful to keep these traps away from your chickens. It’s best to place them against the walls of the coop. These are also the areas that rats will often frequent as they enter the coop or move around once they’re inside. 

Bait Stations

You can also purchase rodent bait and trap stations that are fully enclosed, except for a small entrance on either side of the trap that is just large enough for a rat to squeeze through. The translucent lid on these traps allows you to quickly see whether there is a rodent trapped inside so you can safely dispose of it.

Cage Traps

Additionally, there are humane rat cage traps that are made from heavy-duty wire mesh with a single door that closes once the rat is inside. The openings on these traps are not large enough for chickens to get through, so they pose no danger to your flock.

You can even use these traps around the perimeter of your chicken coop to catch any rats that may be tempted to enter the coop.

The only disadvantage of these traps is that you end up trapping a live rat, and you have to work out what to do with it. Alternatively, you can put a poison bait block inside which will kill the rat.

Expert tip: Place the traps out for a few days without baiting them until the rats are used to them. This is because rats are relatively cautious creatures and will avoid the traps while they’re still new. 

Electric Traps

Electric traps are available that are battery-powered. These traps attract rats once you place a treat inside them. Once inside the trap, the rat will step onto a metal plate which will trigger an electric shock and kill the rat instantly.

This is a fast and humane way to kill any rats that are inside your chicken coop. There’s no blood, so cleanup is easier. In addition, the opening on these traps is too small for any other type of animal as well as your chickens, to get into.

Using Poisons

In most cases, poisons should only be used as a last resort and only if you have a major infestation. You see, if a rat ingests the poison and then dies anywhere out in the open, it could be picked up by birds, pets, or even your chickens. This means that whatever animal picks up the rat will also be poisoned.

The best way to use poisons is in the form of baits inside fully secured bait stations. Many of these bait stations are totally secure. They snap shut as soon as the rat enters, and you need a special tool to open them. 

As a further precaution, use poison blocks rather than pellets because pellets can easily be spilled, and these could pose a danger to your hens.

Call In A Professional

If you’re having trouble getting the rat infestation under control, consider calling in a professional pest exterminator. A professional will have easy access to better baits and traps and will know exactly where to put them to get rid of all the rats from your chicken coop.

How To Keep Rats Out Of The Chicken Coop

Once you’ve totally gotten rid of all the rats in your chicken coop, you want to ensure that you keep them out as best as you can. Here are some expert tips on how to keep rats out of your chicken coop.

Keep The Coop Spotlessly Clean

One of the best ways to do this is to move everything up off the floor of the coop, including feeders and waterers. You can do this by attaching shelves to the walls where you place these. Or, you could consider installing feeders and waterers that you can suspend from the ceiling.

Plus, you can install dropping trays under the roosts that can be cleaned on a daily basis. This means that it’s far easier to keep your coop nice and clean, and you won’t have a huge amount of droppings to deal with when you sweep out the coop.

If you like to feed food scraps to your chickens, make sure that you clean up any leftover scraps before nightfall, so there are none left to attract nearby rats. It’s also a good idea not to just throw the scraps on the floor of the coop because the smell will remain, and this will attract rats.

Also, ensure that you keep the area around the coop free from weeds, grass, and nearby shrubs and trees. This eliminates cover where rats can hide during the day so they can enter the coop at night.

Clean Up Spilled Feed Daily

Chickens can be quite messy eaters and will often spill their feed onto the ground. It’s important to remove this on a daily basis, especially before nighttime when the rats will be active and looking for an easy feed.

This might mean that you’ll have to sweep out the coop on a daily basis, but it is a must if you want to keep rats out of the coop. 

You can also shop around for special spill-proof chicken feeders that help to eliminate waste. 

Store Your Chicken Feed In Metal Containers

Remember to always store your layer pellets in metal containers with tight-fitting lids. Rats can easily chew through plastic, so this is not suitable for storing feed.

Take The Feeders And Waterers Out Of The Coop At The End Of The Day

Another way to deter rats from entering the coop at night is not to leave any food out for them. This involves removing the feeders and waterers from the coop every night. Your chickens will be roosting and won’t need to access food or water during the night.

Just remember to return them to the coop early in the morning as the hens wake up, so they have access to food and water.

Make Sure That You Collect Eggs Daily

Not only do rats love to feast on chicken pellets and droppings, but they are also quite partial to chicken eggs. For this reason, it’s important that you collect any eggs on a daily basis so that there are no eggs left in the coop overnight. 

Also, if you have small chicks, make sure you keep them inside during the night so that hungry rats aren’t tempted to kill them.

Raise The Coop To Stop Rats From Digging Under The Fence

As already mentioned, rats are really good at digging and will dig under your coop enclosure to get inside. One way you can stop this from happening is to raise the coop slightly off the ground. 

Or, you could use a 10 mm galvanized hardware cloth under your coop. You could also use this cloth on the floor of your coop, as rats are unable to chew through it. Additionally, you can create a skirt around the perimeter of your coop.

If you’re using the cloth to create a barrier around the coop, make sure that you extend this for a few feet away from the coop and then staple it to the ground. This will create an effective barrier to keep rats out of your chicken coop once and for all.

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