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Hello, I have suspected for some time that we have a rat/s living under the shed and today one very bold, plump and large rat came out and began confidently eating the seeds that certain birds don't like from the feeder and just drop onto the york stone pavings.

Any ideas?

Dovefromabove

We only buy the more expensive foods that the birds love so they don't discard the wheat and barley that make up much of the cheaper mixes ... these attract pigeons and rats.  The more expensive ones work out cheaper in the long run. 

Big favourites here are Sunflower Hearts and  a Robin and Softbill no mess mix ... none of this is discarded

I would also go to the nearest hardware store B&Q or similar and buy some rat bait and a bait box so that you can get rid of the rats (and there will definitely be more than one) safely and without endangering children, pets or other wildlife.

Hello, I have to agree with Dovefromabove and am having similar trouble myself. I would add that it is advisable to remove completely your bird food. Put down the bait boxes and bait and do not put the bird for out until you are certain the rats have perished or moved on. They will climb onto bird tables after food if it's there. It might also be wise to try and follow a rat and see if it stays under your shed or leaves your garden, altogether. You really need to try and identify the tell tale holes of a nest and get your bait stuffed down the holes. I understand we are in the season for nesting and breeding, so the poison may deal with the bold plump rat you saw, but may not deal with any offspring in the nest, they need to have access to the bait as well.

Once you have a period where your bait has not been taken, it should be safe to reintroduce your bird food and I agree with selecting that which does not fall to the ground such as sunflower hearts and attach a tray to your feeder just in case. Also site your feeder in the open as rats don't like to be in the open rather preferring to run in the undergrowth hidden.

Good luck :-)

Firecracker

We have the same problem!!! we also have 3 Hedgehogs feeding every night, even now in the cold. 

Got a bait box that gets emptied regularly, but not in the last 4 days,hope its sorted till the next time.

In the rural locations where a lot of my work is , most of the people with rat problems invest in a good .22 air-rifle . Squirrels and wood pidgeons either with .22 calibre rifles or shotguns .

Bait boxes are OK , but can be 'long-winded' and not always very effective . I once saw cats devouring the poison from an insecure bait-box .

Obviously no-one could be expected to sit around all day awaiting a rat to appear , but every one 'picked-off'at random has got to affect the overall local population .

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Hello PaulB3, your advice sounds very sound except we live in a very urban setting.  Sometimes it is 'oh to live in the country'.    I have no experience of using a 'good .33 air-rifle.  I will think about finding out how to become a proficient air rifle rat shooter.  In the mean time I'll try the bait-box traps.  Again many thanks for the suggestion which I will keep in mind.

Firefly0

oh, for an air rifle.

We don't have rats in my province but the mice eat my bird seed. I store the seed in bins and the cats in the area do a pretty good job keeping the mice under control. I find that if I don't fill the feeders for a couple days, the sparrows will clean up a lot of the spill. The black birds do a good job in the spring and summer.

Feeding my friends along the river today. Chickadee, Red Breasted Nuthatch and yesterday a Downy Woodpecker.

Thank you.  Such beautiful photographs.  The seed is kept in  bin with a lid inside a locked shed which the rat cannot get into.  The pigeons do come and eat the seeds the smaller birds throw out from the feeder.  Unfortunately the rat seems to get his/her share too as he is very plump and well fed looking.

We have rat-bait box on order and I once the snow has gone I will be out looking for a tray to go under the feeder.

treehugger80

you can cover the seed in chili powder (the hotter the better) as only mammals have the receptors on their tongue for the heat,

birds don't have the receptors so they're fine eating it. Works well for rats or squirrels.

Most local environmental departments will advise you to remove all food sources from the garden for at least 3 weeks.

Bit hard on the birds at this time of year but they will survive.  You have to be a bit hard hearted if you want to rid yourself of the rat problem.

Elevate the bird food in order to remove the rat, get a hanging basket or something along those lines. Last I heard, rats can't jump but it would be a scary sight if they could

Dovefromabove

Rats can jump ... at least three feet high and further horizontally ...  I've seen them.

It's no use raising the birdfood off the ground if the birds scatter discarded bits and pieces below the feeder.  Best to buy good quality bird feed so the birds don't discard so much, and sweep and clear up below the feeders at sundown every day. 

If that doesn't do it then stop feeding the birds and get proper rat bait boxes or call the professionals in. 

Lyn

Dove, that’s lovely. years ago I used to breed fancy rats commercially for selling in pet shops, I looked after hundreds of them, very intelligent, marvellous mothers I always had at least one at home for a pet, the cats took no notice of them.

I never once got bitten by one, however, the guinea pigs have given me several nasty bites.

Before  anyone starts condemning me for animal breeding, I said ‘years ago’ and none went to research centres, although some did go for Snake food. 

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treehugger80 says:

you can cover the seed in chili powder (the hotter the better) as only mammals have the receptors on their tongue for the heat,

birds don't have the receptors so they're fine eating it. Works well for rats or squirrels.

See original post

 I agree completely Chilli powder to deter them plus bait boxes to get rid of them.Go to a good garden centre/ farm supplier & buy the High strength bait that is advertised to kill in one visit. 

Thank you very much for suggesting chilli powder.  We will try it.

Lyn

They may not taste chilli power on their tongues but I wonder what it does to their gut.😱

Stop putting food out for a few weeks; the rats will have to disperse to find food. You'll always have rats visiting the garden, but you don't want them to make it their home, so they need to not see it as a good food source.

When it's time to put food out again, invest in a pole feeder with a conical squirrel baffle (e.g. RSPB website). Make sure the baffle is at least four feet off the ground, and the pole is placed in the open so can't be jumped on from above or the side.

You can also get baffles for bird tables, or to go above feeders which hang from tree branches and the like.

Definitely, definitely buy high quality seed! Pure sunflower hearts are much better than any mix - the birds will eat the lot, whereas mixes usually result in lots of discarded seed. You can fix trays to the bottom of your feeders to catch most of the mess.

(I know this reiterates much of what has already been said, but thought it worth repeating as this is what I've done in the past to deter squirrels and rats - it worked!)