Predator Profile: Rats

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 23 July 2020

Chicken keeping does not have to be difficult or stressful, and you shouldn’t have to spend your time worrying about the pending threat that rats can be to your backyard flock, it’s a part of life and if you put in place the steps listed below, you and your girls will be able to sleep a little easier knowing that you have employed the best preventative measures to help minimise the risk of predators in your chicken coop.

Poorly designed or maintained chicken coops can be a magnet for rodents such as rats. Rats are attracted more so to your chickens food, water and eggs but will sometimes also prey on smaller birds, choosing to attack at night, leaving you with an unwelcome surprise come morning. Your first line of defence is a well designed chicken coop and feeder. This will keep rats out of your coop and prevent them access to feed.

rat in backyard eating grain

Rats, while considered a small rodent, can grow up to twenty-five centimetres long and weigh up to a kilogram, making them more of a threat than mice. They love living in close proximity to humans, and have adapted to living in nearly all conditions, so can pose a problem for most backyard chicken keepers.

Some of the problems they are known to cause include:

  • Eating your chickens feed and water

  • Eating your chickens eggs

  • Prey on chicks at night if not in a secure coop

  • Creates stress for your flock, which can result in lowered egg production

  • Contaminate feed, water and coops with their droppings and urine

  • Carriers of lice, fleas, mites and other parasites

  • Can transmit diseases

There are a number of preventative measures you can take, and adjustments you can make to your chicken coop to help keep your feathered friends safe from these nasty rodents.

Preventing Rats in the Chicken Coop

Because rats are first and foremost attracted to the chickens feed and water, it is important that you make a conscious effort to minimise food waste and attempt to place food sources out of their reach. Some easy fixes include:

  • Clean up any spilled feed before nightfall

  • Store feed away from the coop. Keep it in a airtight container like our feed drum with the lid always firmly in place

  • Remove or securely cover feeders and water source at night

  • Invest in a treadle feeder to keep your feed secure

Rats also love to feast on your girls beloved eggs. To avoid this problem make sure that all eggs are collected from the coop each night.

chicken coop wire mesh flooring to prevent rats

Perhaps the most important preventative measures you can take to help keep your feathered friends safe is with the chicken coop itself. There a number of features that you should be sure your chicken coop has to help keep these pesky pests at bay.

  • Make sure that your coop is fitted with a sturdy 10mm x 10mm galvanised wire mesh that is fixed firmly in place - ordinary chicken wire will not cut it!

  • High quality locks, sliding bolts and padlocks should be installed-not flimsy twist closes, to keep rats from pushing their way in

  • Nesting boxes should be elevated to keep your girls eggs out of their jaws and reach

  • Rats love to gnaw on everything, so make sure your coop is made with a high quality, weather resistant timber that is painted, this will make it extra difficult for even the strongest of rats to chew their way in!

Our range of chicken coops feature 10mm x 10mm galvanised wire mesh on all ventilation points - perfect for keeping Mr Rat away from your chooks' precious bum nuts!

From rats to snakes, it's no wonder pesky predators are one of the biggest concerns amongst keepers. No one wants to spend their time guarding their flock family against intruders.

If you're in need of the best advice and information to keep your flock safe, it's your clucky day! Our friends at Chickenpedia have created a fantastic Poultry Predator Protection course. Sleep soundly knowing your chickens are safe from predators. Discover ways to keep intruders out of your coop, learn how to identify predators, and become the ultimate security eggspert.

Protect your flock today- check out Chickenpedia and their brilliant courses. I highly recommend their beginner-friendly, well-structured courses to all my readers! 

Sources and further reading