Can bird feeders attract rats?
Yes and No – Find out below!
Can Bird Feeders attract Rats?
Bird feeders do not attract rats; it is the easily available seeds and other bird food types that fall at thr ground that keeps the rats coming.
Poorly stored seed and discarded seed thrown out by feeding birds are the most common reasons for this. Good news! There are simple steps to aid you in stopping the rats. Continue reading to discover more.
Does Feeding Birds Cause Rats?
Now, feeding birds doesn’t really attract rats, it is more the case that certain methods of feeding birds attract rats. Plus, certain types of food will attract rats too. The most common thing we can you and I should prevent is seed falling from a feeder and settling on the ground.
With ease, a rat can climb up to a bird feeder but why waste the energy if they have easy meal at ground level? There are products available online, as well as homemade solutions to help prevent rat feeder problem.
Will Rats Leave My Garden After Stopping Bird Feeding?
Yes, rats are free rangers and will leave your garden after you quit feeding the birds but will return as soon as any source of food is reintroduced.
It can be tricky to find balance between feeding wild birds and deterring rats. I really do not like these disease-ridden pests freeloading my expensive bird meal/
It is sad that the only foolproof means of ridding your garden of rats is to remove all sources of food they might find, including bird food. Unless they are nesting under a shed or elsewhere in your garden, rats will just go and target areas with easy pickings.
I have had rats lurking around each time there is food and water for birds.
As soon as you remove the feeders for a while, the rats quit holding meal parties at your garden in the night..
How To Stop Rats Eating Bird Food : 7 Tips To Try
As earlier stated, the simplest and most common method a rat will get to bird food is to eat it from the bottom. This even often occurs underneath the feeder itself. The reason is because seed drops from the feeder or the bird drops the seed.
how can i feed the birds without attracting rats? Here are five simple things you can try to redress the balance.
Pause Bird Feeding For A Few Weeks
As already stated, the simplest secret of seeing less number of rats in your garden is by ridding it of all food sources of bird food.
This method goes against everything we want to achieve as bid feeding enthusiasts or birders. Why can’t we feed the birds without facing issues from the rats? Sadly, the two don’t go together well. If you can bear to take off the feeders for a small period, it may just do the trick….but there return is almost inescapable if they reside in your area.
Make Your Garden Less Rat Friendly
Rats love to hide in dark places, in holes or under sheds near to those places. Keeping your garden clean and exposed as possible will help deter rats from residing there.
They may still visit but at least if they are not permanent tenants you are in with a chance of seeing them less. Close up any easy entry to your garden – between plants, under fences.
Run something around the base of the shed to deter rats from getting under there and taking shelter. Check for holes in building walls; plastic air bricks are simple for a rat to gobble on, have them replaced with stone ones if possible.
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Good garden hygiene is also paramount here. Avoid leaving meal scraps after a family BBQ. Brush away and tidy up any discarded bird food under your feeders. Don’t overfill your feeders in the first place.
Keep bin areas and bin secure and inaccessible to rodents.
Stop Using Incorrect Seed Or Feeders
A primary cause of seed appearing on the ground around/underneath a bird feeder is the feeder allowing seed to fall off.
There are particular types of feeders for certain seed types. If you use smaller seed like niger seed, avoid using a feeder with large feeding ports.
If you plan to feed niger seed to your birds then a feeder with small holes or small slits will be best. Something like this Gardman Steel Nyger Seed Feeder, or the slightly cheaper Flip Top Nyger Seed Feeder are perfect.
The holes are just within the right size for the seed to be accessed but not large enough for seed to drop freely from the feeder, even when it’s tipped or knocked.
Birds like Blue tits and Goldfinches like the niger seed. They have beaks that can easily peck through a small slit to get to the seed,
Learn about more here – Working Out Which Type Of Bird Feeder To Use.
Avoid Seed Husks
A well known favorite among a lot of birders is the black sunflower seed. Sadly, they can be messy and I have stopped using these for this very reason.
The issue is the husk, which birds do not eat and have to peck off to get to the edible content inside. The husk drops to the ground and leaves an “inviting mess” to the rats. Maybe pick an alternative seed type.
Move The Feeder Away From Branches
If you are getting rats on your bird feeder, they may not need to climb the pole to get there. Move your feeder away from a tree branch or other place a rat can jump from.
Doing this cuts away a chance a rat will access your feeder.
Use A No Mess, Quality Seed Mix
At times, cheaper bird seed can have a lot of “dirt” to fill it out. Bird’s won’t eat the “dirt” contents that comes with a lot of cheap products.
When bird pick out the rubbish in the seed mix, they will simply throw it away and it will fall to the ground, ready to be found by a rat.
How can bird feeders attract rats?
Use high-quality, no mess seed mix in your feeders. If you do, birds will consume every single bit and not waste any.
The result is this – there will be less mess on the ground and less temptation for a rat.
There are a lot of brands of “high quality no mess” bird seed available but some are not good as they have you think.
Some of the best bird seed I have seen is from Vine House Farm. The difference in bird activity when using their food was very noticeable
Use Bird Seed That Rats Won’t Eat
While making research, I found out that bird’s don’t have a lot of taste buds, compared to other animals/mammals. An excellent tip to deter rats and other pests from eating your bird seed, is to use a hot pepper mixed with bird seed.
There is sufficient evidence to show that mixing hot chilli or cayenne pepper flakes with bird seed stops squirrels and rats.
If squirrels are a problem for you, or you want to find out more, see my post about Using Cayenne Pepper In Bird Seed.
You can purchase bird seed with cayenne pepper already added. There is no much difference between it and regular bird seed.
Alternatively, you can experiment by mixing your own seed with a sufficient amount of cayenne.
Birds will not be affected by cayenne pepper but rodents will find it so hot, they may just decide not to come back.
Rat Proofing Your Bird Feeder
It cannot be escaped – if you keep food for the birds, other will be attracted. Depending on where you live, you might see squirrels more frequently.
You may not be able to persuade them to quit coming back but here are some ideas on how to prevent rats getting to your bird food.
Catch Fallen Seed
This is the most important and simple means to prevent rats in the first place – ridding the “temptation”.
That means you remove or stop the seed from feeders falling to the ground. If there is a simple option that doesn’t involve climbing and working hard for food, a rat will go the easy way.
You could either attach something underneath your feeders, or go outside and clear up any mess a few times a day.
You need not spend a lotsa money achieving this, there are lots of creative, cheap yet effective ways you can remove this part of the equation.
Here is one I like from Youtube:
Stop Rats Climbing A Bird Feeder Pole
Rats are excellent climbers and can get almost everywhere. There is such an easy means of you stopping them from climbing a bird feeder pole, or bird table support – use a baffle device.
To achieve a working rat proof bird feeder pole use a baffle. A baffle is something that deters a rodent from climbing up a pole to a feeder.
There are 2 major types – a dome shaped baffle and a tabular baffle. Here is a range of squirrel proof feeding options, which also work for rats.
The tabular version appears to be like a length of drain pipe around the pole. In fact, a length of drain pipe around a feeder pole would do the trick, as long as the pipe is slippery and smooth.
A squirrel or rat cannot grip the outside of the tube and so cannot climb up any higher than it already has. As the top of the tube is locked up, the intruder cannot go inside the tube either and is left with an option – go down!
A dome baffle looks like an upside down bowl half way up the pole, or above a feeder. The idea is that a squirrel or rat will get so far up the pole and meet the inner part of the baffle.
The baffle shape makes it hard for a rodent to climb round as there is nothing to grip on to an the rodent will either give up or fall down.
Homemade Bird Feeder Baffles
You can even purchase purpose made baffles from a few pounds to £20, or you can just make your own if you are creative.
Common household materials sold in hardware stores can be adapted to make an easy baffle. They many not beautify the look of your feeder but they sure are effective.
This YouTube clip shows how easy it is to make a baffle and shows how effective they can be against a persistent squirrel.
And now, we have come to the end of our question – How can bird feeders attract rats? Well, now you know.
Rats are pest in most cases, unless of course people with a big heart keep them as pets. FACT – if you feed birds in your garden, you a likely to be feeding rats too.
There are some things we can do to stop rats from getting to our store bought bird seed; implementing baffles or getting creative with rat proof upgrades to feeders, for example. You don’t have to spend a fortune on this, homemade is just as good and will save you money.
This seed types and the feeder type you use are also crucial to your success of deterring these pesky rodents.
The type of seed and the type of feeder you use are also important. If you use the wrong feeder for a smaller seed, it will just fall out all over the ground when the feeder is tipped or knocked.
Engage the use of a catch tray of some sort under a feeder to catch debris and stop it from collecting on the ground below. Your last resort, consider adding a hot pepper to your seed mix. The birds will not notice but the rats will hate it!