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 Post subject: rats!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 5:47 pm 
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Showy Hen
Showy Hen

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 5:12 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Melbourne
Hi people,

I've used Grandpa's feeders for years and found them to be pretty good, although not entirely spill-proof, and introducing new hens to the system is always a bit of a pain.

However, recently our highly intelligent local rats (clearly escaped from a high tech testing facility, or a circus) have learned that by teamwork, they can open the feeder by piling onto the pedal until they make up the required weight. We have been dumping a brick on it over night since discovering this, so that the pedal won't work. One night there were ELEVEN rats enjoying the free food at our place before we broke up the party.

Now, I don't like using poison on any animal due to the cruel death involved, and in the case of rats, I also worry about local owls and raptors picking up poisoned and dying rats in the open, not to mention our dogs and chickens... However, I've put out poison this time, and will be checking the yard vigilantly over the coming days and weeks for dying rats. (They may wish to share some military secrets with me before I put them out of their misery.)

Rat killing aside, I'm wondering who has taken on the daunting task of actually rat-proofing their run and coop? I'm considering doing this, once the rats are all dead and looking for tips on materials, techniques etc. E.g. how far would I have to dig down to lay mesh around the boundaries of the runs, and what kind of mesh would I use? Any suggestions on dealing with doors? Gaps around top, bottom sides... I don't imagine in a blue moon, I'd be able to mouse-proof a run, but maybe I can rat-proof it....

Cheers! Judy


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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:26 pm 
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Gallant Game
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Location: East Gippsland
Yes, yes. I rat-proofed all my houses and some runs about 10 years ago.
:biggrin:
I am doing it up to this day on a daily basis.
They are very very clever and eat through wood, dig under, climb over, run upside down along rafters and generally sneak.

What rats do you have? Ours are the native bush rats with the white belly, a real pain.
We also have the native black swamp rats which are not so bad and seem to keep the others away. (I read somewhere (here, I think) that guinea pigs in the chicken run keep rats away. I may start to believe that.)

I will measure the mesh tomorrow and let you know what doesn't work here. It may be worth while to keep mice out as well, which is 1.5 cm mesh I seem to remember.
The old style corrugated iron roof is a real pain to rat-proof, but they don't dig all that deep. I have 40 cm into the ground, but this is for foxes. It is more important to keep an eye out for their diggings and stop them or set a trap.
(I set cage traps and relocate the bush rats about 4 km away but have the suspicion that they find their way back by the sound of my roosters.)

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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 9:43 pm 
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Showy Hen
Showy Hen

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 5:12 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Melbourne
Thanks Globi. I'll be grateful for any info you can get me. These are just ordinary European Black or Brown rats (I can never remember the difference between those two). Alas, we have corrugated iron roofs on the coops.

We dug down and out to bury wire for the foxes, can't remember how far, but heaps, but it's a big mesh, so just comfy for rats to walk through. *sigh*. It was so much work to fox proof. How far do you think I need to dig down again for the rats?

Cheers, Judy

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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 9:48 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 5:12 pm
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Location: Melbourne
Thought I'd hit on a solution with the rat zapper someone posted on this forum. Instant electrocution seems like a really humane and clean option for rat killing that doesn't endanger wildlife or pets. Awesome! Then I went about looking for one to buy and reading specifications. 'kills rats and mice virtually instantly' said one.. (wonder what 'virtually' means in real terms, I thought.) Then I came across another model that gave details of the shock times. The first shock goes for a full 5 minutes, then subsequent shocks for shorter periods to make sure.... I'm thinking 'instantaneous death? Or 5 minutes of shock torture....??

So then I looked up the RSPCA to get some real info on whether they're recommended. They recommend snap traps. *sigh* I've had to kill so many rats with a brick that I've found caught by a leg or tail or half body in those traps at our old property. Several hours of agony for the animal. I wonder if the RSPCA have not updated their website since the zappers were invented... I may need to look into it further.

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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 11:25 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:00 pm
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Everyone has their own preference as to rat control depending on circumstances.
I have been using cage traps for years now with good results. The disadvantage is that the live rat has to be disposed of but one of my dogs is an expert rat killer. Hold the trap up high when releasing the rat so the dog can mark its fall.
In the longer term cage trapping is much more economical than poisoning and does not pose the risk of accidental killing of other species or pets.
If there is lots of excess poultry feed available you will never get on top of a rat problem as they will breed to whatever population level the food supply permits.


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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2018 6:29 pm 
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Gallant Game
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Joined: Sun May 30, 2010 6:47 pm
Posts: 525
Location: East Gippsland
Hi Judy,
I just measured the mesh I am using.
I have very solid square mesh,opening 10 mm, in sheets from Bunnings very expensive. I only use it in my little breeder houses at ground level.
I also have same mesh, but much thinner wire which gives it 12 mm, in rolls, also from Bunnings. I use that in the big windows of my sheds, 1.2 m or so above ground. They both work well.
I used to have hexagonal, very strong mesh, 30 mm opening. There they go straight through.

The houses are all totally enclosed and I shut the doors at night. For the walls I have weatherboard, old pallets and so on, all gaps closed. For closing small gaps and to stop them crawling in between the walls and the corrugated iron of the roof (the old wavy stuff) I either use the thin mesh or steel wool. Bits of aluminium trays (as you get under cakes and such) work also quite well because you can mold them to odd shapes.
However, they can chew through the hardwood of the weatherboards at the top and they also chew at the sills and top of timber doors.

The outside walls have corrugated iron going into the ground 400 mm or so fixed to them as I have mostly dirt floors. I did them years after the houses were built.
One of the floors is laid with lose bricks and mesh only about 200 into the ground. They dig under them and make nests and I have to lift the bricks occasionally and replace soil underneath.
One wall is an old cool-room panel, and it only goes 20 cm into the ground. They dig under and into that occasionally, but it is easy to cover the holes again.

For the runs I have found that corrugated iron sheets at the bottom work well. They give the chickens wind protection and the rats cannot climb them. They are full width of the usual sheets as the rats can jump over narrow ones and then climb up the mesh. Again they dig under them and the mesh into the ground is to coarse to stop them. I find that the material they call 'crushed rock' here works better than soil which is very sandy here, self-respecting rats digging it out by the truckload in one night.

You can see the finer mesh here: http://croadlangshan.org/html/care.shtml
In the photo with the barn door there is the also the coarser hex-mesh (since replaced) and cool-room panel. The door has a 2 in 20 cm high board on the inside which is backed by bricks and can be lifted out for cleaning the straw/mulch or whatever on the floor out easily.

This is what I can think of at the moment, hope it makes sense.
Let us know how you go, please!
Sue

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http://croadlangshan.org/


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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 11:08 am 
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Showy Hen
Showy Hen

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 5:12 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Melbourne
Thanks fuscipes and Globi. I'm having trouble with the rats still. I realised after laying the bait a few weeks ago, that I've got four neighbouring dogs and one neighbouring cat to worry about as well as my own dogs and the wildlife. So I very much regretted putting out the bait. But I'm catching very few and very slowly with the snap traps and nothing so far in the rat zapper. I've removed the Grandpa feeders and am hand-feeding and have ordered Nosloc feeding nozzles which should be ratproof, but things are not how I would like them at the moment. (This really offends my sense of tickety-boo animal husbandry!)

I also suspect that one of my young hens may have started laying, judging from her appearance. But no eggs to be seen. So the rats may be eating the eggs?? Jeepers!

Wish me luck.

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a tripawd Beagle mix, 2 Pekins, a Bantam Light Sussex, a Bantam Salmon Faverolles, a Bantam Australian Langshan, a Bantam Plymouth Rock, a Bantam Brahma, a Bantam Australorp, a hive of bees and a family of boys.


Last edited by ChickenBoots on Sun May 27, 2018 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 7:10 pm 
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Gallant Game
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Location: East Gippsland
Somebody wrote (I think on this forum) that guinea-pigs keep rats away when kept in the chicken run.
I wonder??

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http://croadlangshan.org/


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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 11:14 pm 
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Showy Hen
Showy Hen

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 5:12 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Melbourne
globi wrote:
Somebody wrote (I think on this forum) that guinea-pigs keep rats away when kept in the chicken run.
I wonder??


Just did a quick search. Came up with this. So doesn't look promising. Thanks anyway.

Post subject: Re: Keeping Chickens and Guinea Pigs together.PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:23 pm
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Proud Rooster
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Location: Southern Highlands, NSW
This came up on another forum I am on and the resounding answer was that you shouldn't keep them together at all. :)
I personally wouldn't do it either. Guineas are low to the ground and will be living in the chickens filth. They have different dietary needs too.

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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 11:36 pm 
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Great Game
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Location: West of Bendigo
We're overwhelmed by numbers and have had to resort to rat baits. Live traps are quickly worked out and avoided. Snap traps are only so-so for rats (great for mice). Baiting reduced the numbers in the further pens to a dull roar. The closer pens are more worry because the rats also climb to the house roof. We are on tank water, I don't want essence of poisoned rats in the gutters/spouting going into the tanks. Cannot have cats, too many birds around depending on water here. Cannot get terrier rat-dogs as our 15 yr old dog would not cope with another dog. All a bit negative but we keep on chipping at it.

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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 10:03 am 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 5:12 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Melbourne
PossumCorner wrote:
We're overwhelmed by numbers and have had to resort to rat baits. Live traps are quickly worked out and avoided. Snap traps are only so-so for rats (great for mice). Baiting reduced the numbers in the further pens to a dull roar. The closer pens are more worry because the rats also climb to the house roof. We are on tank water, I don't want essence of poisoned rats in the gutters/spouting going into the tanks. Cannot have cats, too many birds around depending on water here. Cannot get terrier rat-dogs as our 15 yr old dog would not cope with another dog. All a bit negative but we keep on chipping at it.


It's so tricky, isn't it Possum Corner? Our situation sounds very similar to your in terms of cats and birds. Even if we could have a cat, I'm not sure if bantams would be safe with a cat with a strong prey drive. When I was a child our cat could catch wild rabbits, which are surely harder to catch and kill than a bantam. And I used to own a Border Terrier who was a truly awesome rodent killer, but our current hooligan dogs would be useless.

The baits gave me some sleepless nights thinking what if I killed a neighbour's dog?! (END of relationship!!) But hard to find an effective way. I'll try a bit longer with the most delicious trap baits I can think of for the snap traps and rat zapper.

The funny thing is, we never had a problem like this before. Just a small number. Until the acrorats worked out how to operate the Grandpa Feeder with teamwork. Blech!

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a tripawd Beagle mix, 2 Pekins, a Bantam Light Sussex, a Bantam Salmon Faverolles, a Bantam Australian Langshan, a Bantam Plymouth Rock, a Bantam Brahma, a Bantam Australorp, a hive of bees and a family of boys.


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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 12:34 am 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:04 pm
Posts: 155
Location: NSW Southern Highlands
In rural areas, people bait foxes and rabbits. There are rules about how to go about it. The rules include telling the neighbours what you are using and then making sure any dead pests are removed on a regular basis.

I was just wondering, if, even though this is a little different, taking a similar approach would work? Meaning: have a chat with the neighbors, telling them how bad the problem is, that you've tried everything and need to resort to baits. Tell them what kind of bait you are planning on using. (There are baits that have an antidote, e.g., the kind that are based on warfarin require a vitamin K injection to neutralize).

I were the neighbour, I think I would prefer cooperating in vigilance and watching my dogs carefully for a couple of weeks rather than being overrun with rats. If not controlled, the rats will find their way into the neighbour's house. (If they have chooks too, it could well be that the main colony ends up being (or is already), over the fence..... :dontknow

Good luck with that. :-)


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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 10:01 am 
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Showy Hen
Showy Hen

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 5:12 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Melbourne
Yes, Okay. I'll have a think about that. You may be right.

Cheers, Judy

Okaru wrote:
In rural areas, people bait foxes and rabbits. There are rules about how to go about it. The rules include telling the neighbours what you are using and then making sure any dead pests are removed on a regular basis.

I was just wondering, if, even though this is a little different, taking a similar approach would work? Meaning: have a chat with the neighbors, telling them how bad the problem is, that you've tried everything and need to resort to baits. Tell them what kind of bait you are planning on using. (There are baits that have an antidote, e.g., the kind that are based on warfarin require a vitamin K injection to neutralize).

I were the neighbour, I think I would prefer cooperating in vigilance and watching my dogs carefully for a couple of weeks rather than being overrun with rats. If not controlled, the rats will find their way into the neighbour's house. (If they have chooks too, it could well be that the main colony ends up being (or is already), over the fence..... :dontknow

Good luck with that. :-)

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a tripawd Beagle mix, 2 Pekins, a Bantam Light Sussex, a Bantam Salmon Faverolles, a Bantam Australian Langshan, a Bantam Plymouth Rock, a Bantam Brahma, a Bantam Australorp, a hive of bees and a family of boys.


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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 3:50 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Maybe just word it carefully - something like "you've seen some signs of rats" rather than
"over run with rats".
Some neighbours will immediately turn on your chickens as the cause if they can.


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 Post subject: Re: rats!
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 5:48 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Location: NSW Southern Highlands
good point Sue55 - I have never been good with politics! :-)


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