7 Ways To Prevent Rats In The Chicken Coop

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

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Keeping rats out of the chicken’s living area can be time-consuming and frustrating. Even if there are initially no rats, mice, or other rodents near the chicken coops, they will come (and keep coming) for the food!

We’ll address seven ways to prevent rats in the chicken coop.

Dangers of rats in the chicken coop

You don’t want rats near your chickens. Not only will they eat all the chicken food, but they’ll go after the eggs too!

Rodents carry and transmit diseases and bacteria like Salmonella or Newcastle disease. These can endanger your flock, you, and your family. When dealing with an infestation, rodents will not hesitate to visit your house looking for more food.

Prevention is easier than cure. They won’t be interested in your backyard if there is no food source. You can efficiently keep rodents away by slightly adjusting your feeding habits inside the chicken run and near your house.

You’ll easily spot rodents once they’ve discovered your chickens’ feed:

To keep rodents out of the chicken coop, ensure your birds are locked up at night, and the coop door is closed. Installing an automatic chicken coop door means you’ll never have to worry about forgetting this.

Let’s address seven ways to prevent and solve a rat infestation in your chicken coop!

1. Anti-Rodent chicken feeders

Many feeding containers are available that effectively deter rodents and other pests from eating your chicken’s food.

On the one hand, automatic chicken feeders keep the feed contained with a lid that only opens when your chickens push the handle down with their feet. Another system is a covered feeding port system that prevents rodents or wild birds from joining the fun.

Automatic feeders can be quite expensive, but many other effective options are available. We’ll address our best buys and types for every budget.

Not only do these feeders protect the food during the day, but they also remain accessible at all times for your chickens. Moreover, these chicken feeders help prevent wild birds from eating the chicken feed and reduce food spillage.

Check out our review on the Royal Rooster Feeder and Rent-a-Coop Feeder. Both feeders are high-quality feeders that are rat/rodent/wild bird-proof but cost way less than many automatic chicken feeders.

Another option is to build your rodent-proof chicken feeder using PVC tubes! It’s a cheap solution with a high success rate.

royal rooster feeder

2. No table scraps inside the run

Food attracts rodents, whether you live in a rural area, the suburbs, or in the city. If you leave any food available for any pest or predator, they’ll smell it and find it.

Feeding your chickens with kitchen leftovers is illegal in some countries, like the UK. These measurements are taken to prevent diseases such as African and Classical Swine Fever and Foot and Mouth disease from spreading. Still, it’s also a significant win in controlling and preventing a rodent infestation.

If you choose to feed your chickens kitchen leftovers, ensure all the food is eaten by nighttime. If not, remove any leftover food before your chickens go to bed. When dealing with a rodent infestation, (temporarily) stop giving table scraps to your flock.

two chickens eating leftover vegetables

3. Spice up your chicken feed

An easy and effective trick to use inside the chicken run is to spice up your chicken feed so rodents won’t like the taste of it.

Capsaicin, a compound found in chili, produces a burning sensation in the rodents’ mouths. Chickens, and all birds, lack capsaicin receptors and, therefore, are not bothered with spicy food. Chickens can eat hot peppers and won’t get sick, nor will they feel the burning sensation.

Mix some dried, grained chili peppers in the pellet feed or sprinkle cayenne pepper on top of the chicken feed. Rodents won’t come near it, and your chickens will love it.

4. Collect eggs daily

Larger rodents like giant rats or possums, but also hedgehogs, love the taste of chicken eggs. And once they’ve found out where to get them, chances are they’ll be coming back every night.

By collecting the eggs daily, or, if possible, twice a day, the rodents will soon find out there is nothing more for them to snatch.

egg collecting

Collecting your chicken eggs daily has several other advantages; it reduces the chance of chickens eating their eggs, you’ll have fewer dirty or broken eggs, and the smaller the chances your hens will go broody quickly. So, it’s a win-win for any situation!

5. Keep rodents away by using vegetation

There are several natural rodent repellants you can plant near the chicken coop. Rodents have a very keen sense of smell, so growing the right herbs is an easy way to keep them away. Always ensure you only plant herbs that keep the pests away but are safe for your chickens.

Some plants and herbs keep rodents away but are safe for your chickens.

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Mint
  • Chili
  • Citronella

Be careful with repellants such as daffodils, garlic, and onions, as they are harmful and toxic for chickens.

6. Set up traps

If you want a quick fix and need to get rid of the infestation quickly, you can turn to catch the rodents using a trap. There are several kinds of traps on the market, so you can choose which one suits you best. Beware that the rodents will eventually return if you don’t do anything about their food access. As long as plenty of food is available, they’ll return.

We strongly advise you not to use poison, which is dangerous for all animals, including pets and your backyard flock. If you are planning to use rat poison, make sure to use ‘rat stations’ that prevent children and animals from touching and eating the poison.

7. Rat-Proof your backyard

Pest control is useless when focussing on a tiny part of the backyard. Instead of only pest-proofing the chicken coop, check the entire backyard to ensure rodents stay away. A few simple tricks can help to keep rats away when dealing with an infestation.

  • (Temporarily) take away wild bird feeders
  • Don’t throw food on the compost heap
  • Tidy the backyard
  • Protect the vegetable garden and crops
  • Plant natural rodents repellants such as lavender and citronella
  • Clean up bush piles or other shelter places for rodents

Make your backyard as uninteresting as possible, and soon rats will find more exciting places to go.

Can Rats kill chickens?

It’s rare for a rat to physically attack and kill a chicken. Not only are rats smaller than adult chickens, they mainly eat nuts, plants, and fruits and aren’t really interested in living animals as a food source. In some cases, however, rodents will prey on small animals or insects, so be extra careful when baby chicks are around. A rat must be desperate and hungry to attack an adult chicken.

Rats are also nocturnal animals, meaning they’re most active at night. At nighttime, chickens roost, as they are creatures of habit; they’ll never stay up after sunset. So if your chickens roost inside a secured coop, rats and chickens rarely see each other.

Can Chickens Kill Rats?

Roosters can kill rats, mice, birds, and small rodents using their claws and spurs. They rarely attack by themselves, and it’s primarily self-defense. Chickens are prey animals, but roosters protecting their flock can get quite aggressive. Some roosters will kill trespassing rats and leave the carcass for the hens to eat.

Let’s sum up

Rats, and any rodents, are unwanted guests near the chicken coop. They eat all the food and come for the eggs as well. Rodents are carriers of diseases like Newcastle disease and can be a treat to your chickens and your family. Leave no food source nearby, and they won’t be interested in your backyard. Don’t feed table scraps to your chickens; install an automatic feeder and collect the eggs daily.

Next to these steps, plant rodent repellants, like lavender, around the chicken run and in your backyard. Don’t use rat poison as it is dangerous for all animals, including your chickens and pets.

Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.