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How to feed the birds and not the rats!

Hi all,

I've lived in my new build house for around 6 years now. It has taken a long time to get birds into the garden as for the first couple of years there was still a lot of building work happening. I love to look out the window and see all kinds of birds feeding from my feeders attached around the garden. I was not best pleased however, to see 2 rats climbing my fences to get to the peanut butter feeder and also helping themselves to a drink from the bird bath. 

They are nesting in nextdoor's decking and visiting me for their all you can eat lunch. I'm really reluctant to stop feeding the birds as its taken so long to get them into the garden, but equally I don't want to be encouraging the rats to visit. Has anyone got any tips or tricks as to how I can continue to feed the birds? I have all my feeders in 'cages' and have stopped putting seed and suet pellets out on the bird table for now as they rats were climbing up on to this. 

Thanks in advance


  • There are various ways you can stop rats getting to bird food. Have you a picture of your set up?
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,180
    If you mean the standard cages that are sold, they aren't always very rat proof. If there's any convenient landing, or access, point nearby, they'll get to them.
    There are various set ups available to help stop them, and I think some are quite useful, as they close the food off to anything other than birds landing. I've never used them though.
    Certainly, stop putting food out on the ground, so that you're starving them of that easy meal. 
    The most important thing however, is to have a word with the neighbours. Then get them to call in the heavy brigade, via your council, to get rid of them. That's more important than anything. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,738
    I’m afraid decking provides the perfect residence for rats … I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said it. 😞 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • xamyvaloxxamyvalox Posts: 27
    I know :( I have spoken to them but they seemed disinterested and haven't taken any measures to look into the matter.

    I never do scatter food on the ground as I have a greedy dog who likes to hoover it all up, but previously I was popping bits on to a bird table which inevitably the pigeons and magpies scatter all over the place. I've stopped doing this and removed the bird peanut butter jars that although I have up high, are on a fence with trellis against it - so the rats are using that to climb up to the food. 

    I don't really want to resort to poison if I can help it. Perhaps another word with nextdoor is in order.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    A kind of bird feeder with a tray that catches bits that fall can be good to disuade vermin for coming in to clean up. It has to have small drainage holes to deal with rain. It might not be enough to stop them climbing up to the feeder itself, but will at least not provide and easy buffet all over the floor. Birds like goldfinches love to throw out a load of seed.

    Smooth baffles below and above can help put off mammals, but I tend to think that a determined and hungry rat will find a way around them. They need to be wide enough that a rat can't stretch across the gap.

    If a lot of people locally put food out for foxes or hedgehogs, the rats may well be taking advantage of that too.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,180
    Maybe a call to the council is in order @xamyvalox to get advice . You can say there's rats coming in - they seem to be from next door, and you're worried they get into your house etc etc. Lay it on thick.  ;)
    I've had decking in two different gardens, but never had a problem with rats nesting in them. Maybe too many other ideal spots for them elsewhere. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 703
    I had the same problem with my neighbours and their deck! I wouldn’t put poison down as it is extremely deadly to dogs, it’s not worth the risk. For me they were coming under the fence that ran down the side of the fence (decking was on the other side of the fence) I ended up using the offcuts of thick concrete slabs to block off that entire run of fence and that kept them out. Do you know where they’re entering your garden?
  • These work. I've used about 2 or 3 in my garden. I have rats visit occasionally from neighbouring properties.
    I have a dog and cat.
  • TheGreenManTheGreenMan Posts: 1,628
    The only way to control them is to stop feeding the birds and either call in the council or buy your own bait and traps.

    Keep it up until the bait stops disappearing and then re-introduce the bird food using baffles; keeping the food away from fences etc.

    I inherited a problem with them last year and doing the above sorted it.

    They will only come into your garden to seek food and/or shelter.

    You can try blocking up holes etc (to remove the shelter part) but if the food remains they will keep coming to use the free buffet.
  • I’ve had problems previously because the huge number of finches, especially goldfinches, only eat something like 1 in five seeds discarding the other 4 onto the ground or patio. (They take the optimum sized seeds only!) where I am now the other birds including lots of pigeons clean up pretty well. However at a previous house the only way to end the rat problem was, sadly, to remove the food source by stopping feeding the birds. No food and the rats disappeared after a week or so.
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