Rats are primarily nocturnal animals, so if you are regularly seeing them in the day, it probably means that you have a lot of them. They are not interested in your chickens, but they are interested in the food that your chickens are eating. Having said that, they will attack (and kill) chicks, and they will take your eggs if they get the chance. A rat might attack a chicken, but an angry chicken can be a mighty foe, and it is not unknown for chickens to kill (and eat) rats. If you are not seeing rats, but still think you may have a problem, read this article to learn about the signs of a rat infestation.
What Attracts Rats
A food source is the primary thing that attracts rats. Make sure you only feed your chickens what they need, to help reduce attracting vermin. Keep your chicken area clean. Collect any eggs as often as possible (as rats will try to steal them). If you have a compost bin, don’t put any cooked food in it.
How to Keep Rats Out
Rats have razor sharp teeth and have been known to nibble through wire, but they are most likely to try and burrow in, or nibble away at the chicken house itself. One solution is to use weld mesh instead of chicken wire, as weld mesh is far stronger and cannot be pulled out of shape or bitten through as easily as chicken wire can be. For added security you could continue the wire fencing down another 12 inches (or more) buried into the ground and then turn it outward 6 inches to help prevent burrowing underneath. Some people also recommend making sure there’s at least a 4″ gap between the floor of the shed and the ground as apparently rats can’t stand upright and chew.
How to Get Rid of Rats
Some cats and dogs will catch rats for you. Poison is not a good idea around the chickens if they are likely to find the dead rat or the poison because they will eat them. Two old-fashioned methods you might like to try:
#1 Corn Meal and Plaster
Mix equal parts of corn meal and plaster of paris and place it in the rat holes. The plaster of paris hardens in the stomach of the rat and which leads to death.
#2 Old-Fashioned Wild Rat Trap
Dig a hole and bury a large fruit jug or jar. The top part of the jar should be left uncovered, and a hole should be made in it just above the ground. Place some shelled corn in the bottom, put a board on top, and weigh it down. Check it every few days.
Facts About Wild Rats
A female rat can produce up to twelve litters of twenty rats a year.
It is estimated that one-fifth of the world’s total food output is eaten, spoiled or destroyed by rats.
Around 26% of all electrical cable breaks are caused by rats, and they are thought to be responsible for around 25% of all unexplained fires.
Did You Know
There are no nutritional differences between fertilized or regular commercial eggs
Chickens were domesticated from jungle fowl in Southeast Asia many centuries ago.
Varying a bit from breed to breed but in general, roosters start to crow at around 3 to 4 months of age. Some might take till 6 months old to start.