Ask the Bird Lady - how do I keep rats away from my bird feeder

Friday, November 25, 2016

Rat and squirrel eating birdseed
on ground under bird feeder
Photo by Tom D. Bewley

A reader has a rodent question for Christine Southwick - The Bird Lady:

Christine - is it possible to feed birds without attracting rats? I'm happy to feed birds but haven't yet figured out how to not get RATS!!!

Chris replies:

Rats can be a problem. Sometimes bird seed may draw rats. More often rats were already there, but become visible because they stay out under the bird feeder(s).

I live adjacent to a sixteen-acre park. There are wood rats that live in the park, and undoubtedly one or two travel through my yard regularly. I never see one unless it is cold, and then I may see one under a feeder. So, I believe I would have a wood rat or two even without bird feeders.

When I put out extra seed on the ground, I only put a little seed on the ground in the morning when the birds and squirrels will eat it before evening.

If I keep seeing a rat, I mix peanut butter with vitamin D, and put that out along the rat's route. This will not hurt cats or raptors. (Do not use rat poison as it will kill whatever eats those rats.)

Large wharf rats, and Norwegian rats are another problem. You may have to stop feeding birds until the rat problem is eliminated.

Feeders on poles with a squirrel baffle and good quality food can be resumed at that time.

Hope that helps.
Chris the Bird Lady


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