Rats are never a welcome visitor in your chicken coop. Rodents spread disease-causing bacteria, eat your chickens' feed, prey on young chicks and have also been known to steal and eat eggs. If the problem becomes severe enough, rats may even cause harm to adult birds in the coop. You will need to keep rats out of your chicken coop if you want to have healthy, productive chickens.
Good chicken coop design can really help you keep rats and other predators out. Your coop needs to have solid walls and doors that cannot be penetrated by a rodent. Rats will attempt to chew through wood, and can even get through soft metal and concrete, so you need to regularly check and maintain your structure. Replace any damaged sections of your coop walls, floors and doors. Coops that sit a little above the ground can be less appealing for rats because this prevents them from hiding underneath the coop or trying to chew their way in from below.
If your chicken coop features windows or a run that allows your chickens to go outdoors, you will need to fence this enclosure in so that it is rat-proof. Hardware mesh or other wire fencing with small openings is necessary to keep rats from slipping into your coop. The openings in your fencing should be no more than a quarter of an inch wide. Rats are excellent climbers, so the roof of your enclosure also needs to be covered.
Rats will be drawn to any easily accessible source of food or water that they can find. Do not leave your chickens' food dispensers or waterers out at night, and place all feed in rodent-proof containers. Clean your coop and the area surrounding it regularly to prevent rats from building nests anywhere in or near the coop. Consider other sources of food or water that might draw rats, such as bird feeders, food left out for pets or even puddles of rainwater.
Getting Rid of Rats
You cannot safely use poison to kill rats in your chicken coop because you run the risk that your chickens will also be poisoned. If you believe you have rats in your chicken coop, contact a licensed exterminator so he can examine the problem and determine a safe solution.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.