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I have to stop feeding the birds in my garden

Hi there,

I am seeking advice.  I have three bird feeders, one for sunflower hearts, one peanuts and suet pellets and one for fat balls.  The other day I saw a rat come into the garden and immediately ascend the tree to eat the fat balls.  I have removed this feeder but the rats are still coming.  They come in broad daylight.  They are not shy about walking across open spaces etc.  My neighbour has also complained about rats in their garden so needless to say I am being blamed.  I rent the property and am concerned that I am causing these rat problems.  I now have only the sunflower hearts out.  I think I will have to remove this and cease feeding the birds altogether.  I am very upset at this prospect as feel responsible for their well being now!  How should I do this?  Should I gradually reduce the food, wean them off it?  I will eventually have to leave this flat in about 18 months time so the feeding has to stop then anyway.  I am worried what will happen to the birds that come in large numbers presently.  I have everything from the humble blue tit to woodpeckers.  Do you have any advice for the best way to stop the feeding?



  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,637

    You are not to blame for the rats,  they were there long before you put up your feeders and they will still be there long after you take the feeders down. Apparently we are never more than six feet away from a rat. 

    Tell you neighbour to get in pest control if they want the rats removed as their garden is the source of the rats.

    Don't stop feeding the birds though.

  • Is there any way you could move the feeders to make them more inaccessible to rats? I have mine on a pole with a squirrel baffle and the rats can't climb up it. Having said that I did have a pair of rats who came regularly to eat the bits that fell on the ground in the spring. I put poison down which get rid of them but, if you want to try that, make sure that you put the poison where it can't be reached by the birds or by any pets or other wildlife.

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    I disagree. Stop feeding the rat! They are never alone, it probably has a family.

    Wash your hands very thoroughly after you have re-filled the feeder if you choose not to remove it. Rats carry diseases.
  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,614

    We have a mouse problem and that is never pleasant when they are in the house that is one reason that I don't have bird feeders although the pest controller who I paid £300 to rid my house of mice said that my raised fish pond would attract mice too, now if we had rats the fish pond would have to go. The allotment that I garden on has loads of rats I suspect that it is the chicken houses that attract them. 

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,818

    Rats are present everywhere but get cheeky and more visible during breeding time.

    You can do as suggested and put down poison - I do - and also call the local council yourself for a rodent removal chappy or chappess to come and deal with them.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • flumpy1flumpy1 Posts: 3,117

    I had to get rid of my bird feed too because of rats, but I still get birds pottering in my garden so I'm happy no more rats image

  • WonkyWombleWonkyWomble Posts: 4,373

    I had the same problem, I got self standing feeders on word image poles. It has solved the problem. Rats will always be around but they won't stay if they can't access the food. The birds in my garden are happy as am I! I also have a stray cat I took on that is happy to have my shed to live in, and he is a great deterrent! And if they get too close, its the last time they do! image

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Air rifle, sorry, best way to deal with rats is a .22.

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 7,739

    There is plenty of natural food available to birds at this time of year so, other that p***** the birds off and making them work for their dinner, stopping feeding them now won't cause any real problems.  If it was the middle of winter and the feeders were the only source of food it might be different.

    My priority would be to remove the food source which is attracting the rats.

  • Sorry but that simply isn't true. It's important to feed birds all year round. Food shortages can occur at any time of the year.

    Buy a self standing bird feeder so that the rats aren't able to climb it. That's what I do. And clean out any food that falls to the ground on a daily basis.

    "Temporary food shortage can occur at almost any time of the year, and if this happens during the breeding season, extra food on your bird table can make a big difference to the survival of young.

    Birds time their breeding period to exploit the availability of natural foods: earthworms in the case of blackbirds and song thrushes, and caterpillars in the case of tits and chaffinches. It is now known that if the weather turns cold or wet during spring or summer, severe shortage of insect food can occur, and if the weather is exceptionally dry, earthworms will be unavailable to the ground feeders because of the hard soil.

    Natural food shortages

    If food shortages occur when birds have young in the nest they may be tempted by easy food put on birdtables to make up the shortfall in natural food, initially to feed themselves, but if the situation gets bad enough, they will also take the food to the nest.

    If the food offered on your bird table isn't suitable for the young chicks, it can do more harm than good, and can even be lethal to the chicks as they can choke on the food. It can be difficult for a human to gauge when food shortage in the wild occurs, and hence it is best not to put out food that is likely to create problems during the breeding season.

    Therefore, never put out loose peanuts, dry hard foods, large chunks of bread, or fats during the spring or summer months."
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