Methods of getting rid of rats
  • Buy a rat proof feeder
  • Ultrasonic repeller
  • Live traps
  • Rat Zappers
  • Snap traps
  • Homemade traps
  • Glue traps
  • Guns
  • Poisons
  • Cats
  • Terriers

Rats can be Deadly

They put your flock at risk so get rid of them as soon as possible

We are going to look at the eleven best ways of getting rid of rats and my experience with some of the methods then you can decide which method is best for your flock.

  1. Having chickens doesn’t mean you have to have rats. 
  2. Good housekeeping is essential for preventing rats from colonizing your backyard or barn.
  3. Use these tips to decide which way you want to go about removing rats from your property
  4. If you have any other methods please comment at the bottom of the article so that others can learn other methods of dealing with rats




Please Learn From My Mistakes!


Rats?  Not Me, ever….

No way I would ever have rats, or so I thought.  By the time I allowed myself to accept there was a problem I had a huge rat colony under my coop.  When you see evidence of mice or rats start working on driving them away or killing them immediately to avoid a lot of headaches.

I don’t recommend any of these methods nor do I say not to use them, I am just listing ways of dealing with rats.  Your situation or sensibilities are going to be different so pick and choose which methods you think are best for your  flock


Rat Proof Chicken Feeder from The Carpenter Shop

 Why treadle feeders work

  • the door keeps the mice and rats away from the feed
  • Chickens are heavy enough to depress the treadle
  • But rats are too light
  • The enclosed eating area also helps with feed scattering
  • If they have a protruding lip on the inside of the feeder that will prevent most birds from billing feed out of the feeder
  • Prices start at around $60.00 plus shipping costs

Buy a Rat Proof Chicken Feeder

Fastest and cheapest way to get rid of rats

To the left is our favorite rat proof chicken feeder, made by the Carpenter Shop in Oklahoma City.  What makes it stand out from the crowded field of treadle feeders is that narrow and distant treadle instead of the wide treadles on most feeders.  Why is that best?  Because a chicken has a grasping claw and can easily hold the treadle down AND the rats can’t gang up on the step and reach the feed if they managed to push the treadle down.

  1. A good treadle feeder uses both weight and reach to keep the rats, wild birds, and squirrels out of the feed
  2. Choose a feeder that has a spring loaded door and a counterweight system to prevent the vermin from just pushing the door open.  Many of the popular brands will allow mice and rats to push their way inside..
  3. The guillotine style doors will take weeks to train the birds, the swinging door feeders are much easier for training
  4. Other methods of rat control usually not needed once a treadle feeder is in place




Other Considerations


Weather proof?

Check the customer reviews carefully as some feeders do leak and are difficult to clean.  Some models are indoor only and some companies have indoor and outdoor versions


Is there a soft close door option?

Chickens are going to be reluctant to use the new contraption in their world and a bit leery of it.  The soft close door is a big help in the initial training although it is a luxury as the birds will accept the swing in type feeder doors fairly quickly if motivated by hunger.

With the feed safely out of the way of the rats and mice the vermin will quickly begin to starve and either leave to search for other food or become susceptible to poisons and traps


Methods of getting rid of rats
  • relatively cheap
  • Easy to use
  • Non violent
  • People say they work on roaches and bugs

Ultrasonic repeller

  • Small devices that plug into the wall sockets and emit highly pitched noise that rats can hear but humans cannot hear.  Rats and mice are supposed to dislike the noise and might leave the area

Do they work?
  1. Probably useless if you already have rats as noise isn’t going to drive rats from a ready food supply and a safe burrow
  2. They might act as a deterrent if you don’t already have rats but there isn’t a lot of proof out there that they actually work on rats..




Consumer Warning!

The FCC is warning that these products probably won’t work and have warned several of the companies not to make unsubstantiated claims.


What I think…..

My experience in my own home showed me that mice ignored any noise that they might have put out so I personally don’t recommend buying an ultrasonic repeller.  However if you already had one it might be worth a try.


Methods of getting rid of rats
  • Humane but the rats will be back
  • Doesn’t harm the rat if you are against killing creatures
  • Won’t harm other creatures
  • What do you do with a live rat once you have caught it?  Release it upon someone else far away?
  • Doesn’t work but a few times unless the rats have no other food available

Live Traps

Purchase starting at $24.00

Metal traps are the best but avoid any plastic traps as even a mouse can chew through plastic quickly.


  1. Set the trap in the location where the rats are traveling, against a wall if possible.  Block the door open and bait the trap for a few days so the rats get used to stealing the bait.
  2. Once you do set the trigger and activate the trap it might catch several or just one rat.  After a couple of times the rats aren’t likely to fall victim again unless they are starving.


More info on live traps



Humane but Does it Shift the Burden to others?


Costs of disposing of the rat

Experts say that turning the rat loose at least five miles away will most likely prevent the rat from returning to your property.  The fuel and mileage on the car are a consideration if you have a lot of rats to catch.


Dumping your Problem on Others?

It might be five miles away but someone lives there and will have chickens or other livestock.  Or the rats might find a home or business.  If nothing else they will hunt the wildlife in the area or damage crops or find a farm to live on.


Methods of getting rid of rats
  • Battery operated
  • Some have remotes indicating a killed rat
  • Effective, 8000 volts for two minutes
  • Only kills one rat at a time
  • Battery life, 10 to 12 kills
  • Start at $49.00

Rat Zapper (fatal)

Quick, humane kill

Battery powered the rats enter the device to steal the bait set over a metal plate, triggering an electric shock that stops the rat’s hear.   Since rats can actually restart their heart the voltage continues for about two minutes.

  1. A clean kill, no blood, little suffering on the rat’s part.
  2. Excellent method of controlling rats that wander onto your property without endangering other small animals, pets, wild predators that help keep the rat population down naturally.




How to use


Bait it but don’t set it yet

Rats are cautious critters, let them steal the bait for a few days.  Best set along a wall or corner so the rats don’t have to venture out into the open to get to the device.



Don’t believe the marketing hype on battery life.  Keep fresh batteries in it and watch for the flashing red light that indicates low power levels.

Snap Trap


Quick and effective, but messy.

  • Deadly and cheap
  • Simple to use
  • Instant results
  • Cheap
  • Kids and rat traps don’t mix
  • $1.99 per trap

Snap Traps

Dependable and Cheap

Kills instantly so the rat doesn’t suffer, cheap enough to deploy several for severe infestations.
Having to dump the dead rat out of the trap isn’t fun, not for the squeamish or faint at heart.   
Snap traps aren’t that effective as the rats are smart enough to figure out that they are bad news.  Keep changing the location and type of traps if you want to keep them being effective.

Rats love peanut butter, just a small amount will do


Snap Traps




How to use them



  • Rats don’t like to venture out into the open so place the snap traps along a wall, in a corner, or inside a box or pipe used to conceal the trap.  Keep pets, chickens and small kids away.   As a child I remember stepping on rat traps in one of my Grandfather’s barns.  No fun indeed!



  • Bait the traps but don’t set the trap for a few days to lull the critters into false security.


Homemade traps are
  • No cost if you have the makings
  • Clever idea to deal with rats
  • Good if you need a lot of traps for a bad infestation
  • Usually needs tweaking
  • Time consuming at best
  • You’ll waste a lot of time scheming and might get hooked into building a better mouse trap

Homemade Traps

Clever, but not always reliable

One of the most popular homemade traps uses a water filled bucket, some thing for an axle, and a plastic bottle that you can smear bait on.  When the rat reaches for the bait if will fall into the bucket and drown

  1. Advantages.
    Certainly cheap enough if you have a bucket on hand
    Takes a bit of experimentation and tinkering till you have one performing.
    Not for the squeamish as it takes some time for the rat to drown
    Mixed reviews from users, if you are handy you can likely make them work

Homemade traps



Interesting to read about online but not always the most effective method



Many different types

A bit of time spent online searching will turn up dozens of homemade traps.  They usually revolve around enticing the rat to reach for the bait or walk onto a precarious board that will tip it into a bucket or barrel.

One of the most intriguing is a fabric covered barrel with an X marked in the center.  Using a sharp knife slice the fabric along two legs of the X and scatter bait or grain  close to the cut part.


Simple as can be
  • $ 1.48
  • Unwrap and place the trap
  • Toss the entire thing a way after catching a rodent
  • Keep away from pets, chickens, and kids, especially kids!

Glue Traps

Even if you hate rats this is a tough way to see any creature go

  1. Profession exterminators love these things because they are cheap and allows them to deploy a lot of traps.
  2. Nothing more than glue on a backer, rat walks into the glue, rat stays in the glue.  You can even buy the glue to make your own traps
  3. Usually the rats starve to death or struggles till it has a heart attack or dies from exhaustion.  If you are humane you still need to kill the rat before tossing the trap. Drowning in a bucket is best.


Glue trap sources



How they work.


Cheaper than snap traps but single use
Anything that walks or crawls across it is going to be caught like it or not.

You need to really hate rats if you are going to use these things because it is not a humane method of killing rats.   I personally would find another way unless it was a huge infestation and there was no other choice


Simple as can be
  • Lay in wait in the dark
  • Night vision scope makes it easier
  • Expect to spend upwards of $100.00 for a decent rifle plus the night scope


If you have plenty of time and are a good shot this might be a way to go

  1. Modern air rifles are powerful and accurate and can kill a rat instantly. 
  2. .22 caliber are best but even the smaller .177 will kill a foot long rat with ease.
  3. One sure way of getting the rats that are too smart for poisons and traps
  4. If you have an old beat up .22 caliber rifle you can buy rat shot, like a small shotgun shell, that makes it easier to hit a moving target.


Air Rifles



Is it legal?


Of course, as long as you are on your own land or have permission to shoot on the land.  Rats are considered pest, not wild animals, so there are no game laws or daily bag limits.

If you are in Europe you might need a license for a gun but most places in the U.S. do not license or permit air guns.  Some of the pump or Co2 air rifles are quite powerful and accurate at short ranges.


Not a long term solution.
  • Might work on the first few rats that eat the bait
  • A rat’s keen sense of smell means they can detect some poisons
  • Best used where the rats are hungry and less able to pick and choose what they eat


 Poison works if the rats are hungry

  1. Usually when people discover a rat problem they will try poisons first to try to knock down the numbers.    You really do need to kill the vermin as they expose your flock and your family to disease.  No one likes killing living creatures but these aren’t wild animals making a living off the land, they are vermin that will destroy wild animals, nests, and anything they can catch.
  2. The use of poisons carries its own risks though if a dead rat or mouse dies out where a chicken or pet can get hold of it.  Natural predators are also killed from a slow build up of poison from eating poisoned rodents.


Rat Poison



Problems with poisoning rats


Finding the carcass and disposing of it

Poisoned rats will crawl up into a sheltered spot to die.  That might be a wall in your house or attic.


More rats will move in to eat the dead rats

Killing off a few rats with poison just leaves the area open for more rats to move in.  If you have space and food, more rats will come to replace the poisoned rats.

Not all rats will eat the poison and not all rats that doe eat the poison will die, some build up immunity to the point that the poison doesn’t affect them.  Entire generations of rats are bred to be poison resistant as the immune rats pass on the genes.


The right kind of cat is needed
  • Some breeds are better mousers than others
  • The right cat will constantly hunt rodents around your property
  • Cats will kill song birds, snakes, insects, anything they can catch

Get a Barn Cat

 House Kitties need not apply

  1. If you combine a cat with rat traps you can make a dent in the rat population but there will always be plenty of new rats to replace what the cat catches.   If you don’t remove what is attracting the rats your problem won’t end.   If you live in a rural area you already have wood rats and field mice around but they will live where there is  a food supply and have to scratch for a living instead having a hopper full of chicken feed to eat.


Rat Poison



Problems with poisoning rats


You need a larger barnyard bred cat that is used to living outdoors and had a mother that taught it to catch rats.  The average house cat wouldn’t be bold enough to take on a rat a quarter of its size.

Cats will kill chickens too, from chicks right on up to a full grown hen.  Cats will come with the costs of feeding along with vet bills  including keeping the cat’s rabies vaccinations up to date.
Humane societies and pounds don’t like to re home cats for rat control or on farms.


The right kind of terrier is needed
  • Some breeds are better  than others
  • The American Hunting Terrier is the best
  • Jack Russell Terriers will work too

Rat Terriers

 Find a local terrier owner

Terriers were bred over the centuries to chase down and kill rats.  The dogs are very quick and once they catch a rat they shake it to death.  Some farms still keep a rat terrier around specifically for rat hunting.  The dogs do enjoy the hunt as it is what they were bred for but they only catch the rats that are running away as the babies and any other rats in the tunnels will be beyond their reach unless you have a pro smoke the rats out for the dogs to catch.


Rat Poison



Terriers are great rat control


However terrier hunts are for getting the numbers down as they will not eliminate the rats underground.

Probably the most humane method killing rats is the terrier and the cat but you will never eliminate the rats until you have removed either the food source or the space the rats are using.


Methods of getting rid of rats
  • Rat proof feeders are best
  • Ultrasonic repeller, usually ineffective
  • Traps of all sorts will work initially
  • Guns absolutely work at controlling the numbers
  • Poisons are too dangerous
  • Cats and terriers work well at reducing the number of rats but will never eliminate them.

The Take Away

Can you eliminate all rats?

No, but you can drive them away through eliminating their hiding and nesting  places and eliminating their ready food supply with a proper rat proof chicken feeder.

  1. Trapping and poisoning will take a few of the rats down but unless the rats are starving they will be too cautious to eat rat bait or risk messing with a rat trap once they have seen it kill
  2. Once the food is stored in rat proof containers and in a rat proof feeder the rats will be motivated enough to risk the bait and traps.
  3. Driving the rats away leaves them more susceptible to natural predators and any other nearby rat colonies will drive them away from their location.


More info on rat proof feeders



You are going to have to spend $80.00 to $100.00 to buy a rat proof feeder if you are going to win the battle with rats



Once you have the feeder  purchased and the bulk feed stored in steel containers the expense is done, no more poison to buy, no cat food, no time spent trying to shoot rats.  The best feeders will have sides and an inner lip that prevents most birds from flicking feed out when searching for choice bits of feed. The feeder will quickly pay for itself in feed savings from the feed waste alone plus any savings from preventing rats and wild birds from stealing your feed.

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