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Is there any way to keep rats away from a bird feeder? I have just seen a rat come and visit mine twice. I don’t want to kill them but I have young children who play in the garden and also have rabbits who have free run of the garden... would a rat go for a small rabbit? Any tips on keeping them away?


  • cathaysbluecathaysblue Posts: 1
    edited July 2019
    They're being brought in by the falling seed from the bird feeder - after a free and easy meal. We had a pest issue in our place before and this was one of the things flagged up by a pest controller. Only way to keep them away is to stop the reason why they are coming in to the garden in the first place. They only really look for food or water. 

    Remove the bird feeder, or try and incorporate some sort of tray under it to catch any falling seed.

    We used traps to get rid of ours and found where they were coming into the garden, so focused more on those areas. We still get the occasional visitor but are pretty tight with not leaving anything around that would attract them in now. Hope this helps a little. Best of luck.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,255
    Get a proper pest control firm in.  Rats carry leptospirosis which is spread in their urine which they dribble as they visit your garden. When I was a child a boy in the next village died because he caught the disease from rats in his garden. 
    And yes, rats will attack small animals and birds. 

    I encourage wildlife into our garden but I grew up on a farm and have a pragmatic approach to rats ... get rid of them ... there are plenty more out there but we need to keep the numbers down to stop the spread of disease in our homes and gardens. 

    You cannot ‘keep them away’ ... my brother is a potato farmer and has evidence of rats gnawing on concrete to get into potato and grain stores. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • mrtjformanmrtjforman Posts: 331
    falling seed from a bird feeder is a new one to me. Guess it depends how much is fed.

    I would have definetely placed the blame on the rabbits and possibly the kids but I'll have to be careful blaming kids as kids although lovely, don't think like adults - as in dropping that muesli bar in the flower bed and not tidying it away - since the rats will do it free of charge.

    Anyway most likely the rabbits and their asociated smell. When I had chickens, rats would follow eventually too. Sometimes they even found the chicken food.

    I know rats are not nice but I also know if you are 100% sure they are not getting any food from your garden they will eventually stop visiting.
    Atleast mine did. Of course if they are getting food from nearby they might still stay but rats can't survive off nothing, especially in winter. A bag of rabbit food is a nice find for a winter treat.

    Number 1 tip is tidyness.
    Number 2 tip is lock the rabbit food away either in the house or in a sealed container so they can't smell it.

    Last resort - rat traps - but luckily I never had to resort to that.

  • Jennym83Jennym83 Posts: 41
    I’ve watched it a few times now and it goes straight for the bird feeder, the rabbit food, hay etc is all kept inside. There’s a suet feeder which makes a hell of a mess and I have a tray under it but that’s easily accessible to the birds and rats. I really don’t want to stop feeding the birds, I’ve just started getting different species feeding here and I’ll be gutted if I have to stop. I could take the suet feeder away and see if that makes a difference. 
    I have noticed a few times now the peanut feeder has been knocked off and there’s nuts all over the grass, I blamed a squirrel although I don’t really see them in my garden, maybe I’ve just found the real culprit! 
  • cornellycornelly Posts: 968
    How is the rat getting to the feeder, ?, ours are on feeder posts not able to get there, the posts are greased to stop squirrels feeding as well.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,255
    I imagine the birds are discarding their least favourite seeds and just eating their favourites. Goldfinches are notorious for doing that. The stuff on the ground attracts the rats. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • OmoriOmori North YorkshirePosts: 1,659
    Since I switched to pure sunflower hearts, the birds no longer toss unwanted seed on to the ground.  Some small amount still falls out as the birds eat, but the ground crew (ie, wood pigeons, collared doves, and blackbirds) all quickly clean it up.
  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,149
    We had rats last year and I stopped feeding the birds in order to get rid of the problem. That and destroy anywhere they might have been living (my grass pile as it turned out). I understand that rats prefer to keep to the same paths and do not like disturbance so I tried to interfere with their motorway system on a regular basis. It isn't nice having them in the garden, especially when there are children using the same space, but I have some respect for the animals' intelligence, having come face to face with them a few times.
    I have found that no-mess bird food seems to be better as there is very little wastage and therefore little left for vermin to feast on.
  • Jennym83Jennym83 Posts: 41
    The rat came under the fence at the back of the garden, I think on the other side of the fence is a load of brambles but I’m unable to get to it to do anything about it. I only use no-mess bird seed but I do see seed fall out as they eat and as I say the suet is messy, that has since been removed which is sad as it was a huge hit. 
    My rabbits actually love clearing up the mess on the ground as do pigeons, sparrows etc but there’s obviously been enough to attract the rat. 
    I did think about greasing the pole in case the rat is the culprit knocking the peanut feeder off. What would I grease it with?

    I phoned the council and they wanted £91 to send someone out. We’re in forces housing so I phoned the company who looks after them and they do actually cover pest control which surprised me, so someone is coming out on Thursday. 
    I do feel guilty as it’s only doing what it can to survive but I can’t risk it spreading diseases to my children or harming my rabbits :(
  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,149
    Hopefully your rodent problem will be sorted out soon.
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