We all love to see pretty little garden birds who arrive to nibble on our bird feeders. But, they do sometimes come with some more unwanted guests…
You may be wondering how to feed birds without encouraging rats – and if so, you are very far from alone! We are here to find you some solutions to this problem.
How To Feed Birds Without Encouraging Rats?
Unfortunately, where there is bird food there are often rats. It’s just a fact of life – rats will eat just about anything!
If you have a rat problem but you are diligent with your compost and you don’t leave out food scraps, you may wonder where the rats are coming from… Sadly, your bird feeders may be the culprit.
Bird feeders do attract rats, even those that you hang in the trees – rodents are often very good climbers.
There are a great many rodent-proof bird feeders out there that you can install, so that you can still feed the birds without the problem of rats.
Removing water sources is another good way of keeping the rats at bay while encouraging the birds – birds can fly to find water, whereas rats need it available. Ditch the bird bath!
You should take care to store the seed properly. Rats are attracted to any food source, so leaving the bird seed bags open in the shed is just asking for trouble.
Try to keep the area clean. Birds can be messy, and will drop seeds they don’t like to eat, which encourages ground-level scavengers.
If you have a free standing bird table, consider adding a baffle. This should stop the rats climbing up onto the table to feast on the seeds.
How Do I Get Rid Of Rats Without Harming Birds?
So you want to keep feeding the birds, but not the rats… You are definitely not alone! Getting rid of the rats can be a tricky problem, especially if you want to keep the birds.
The first and most important tip is, don’t use poison. Yes it may kill the rats, but you run the risk of inadvertently killing the birds as well.
Glue traps are another no no – again, they may catch the rats, but you run the risk of catching an innocent sparrow or blue tit in it too.
You can, if you have a really bad infestation of rats, get in touch with a pest control professional, who will be able to give you advice on how to deal with your problem.
Using strong scents that rats hate is a good way to protect your bird feeders without putting off or harming the birds themselves.
Use mint, vinegar, chilli, garlic, pepper – anything that is strong smelling will offend those little rodent nostrils and put them off.
This article is very useful for advice on getting rid of rats, with a focus on not harming wildlife.
How Do I Stop Rats Raiding My Bird Feeder?
Obviously, you want to encourage the birds while keeping the rats at bay – but how on earth are you supposed to stop them when they know where the bird feeders are?
Try to clear up the seed that the birds drop, as this will be the first thing that alerts the rats to the fact that there is food around.
If they are getting into the bird feeders themselves, invest in a rodent-proof version – you can get these at most good garden stores.
Keep bird feeders away from walls, trees – anything that rats can climb onto then use to get onto the feeders.
Bird tables are easy for rats to climb up onto, so consider getting a hanging feeder instead – or placing a baffle to stop the rats from climbing up.
Of course, you don’t want to stop feeding the birds entirely because of rats – but equally, you don’t want an infestation of rats in your garden!
Do Rats Climb Up Bird Feeders?
Rats are excellent at survival, and they are also incredibly acrobatic. You will know this if you have ever seen one shin up your trees!
Yes, rats can and do climb up bird feeders. Basically, they will do anything to get a bit of food, even if it’s tricky to get to.
The long, thin pole bird feeders will be harder for a rat to climb up, so invest in one of these if you can.
Adding a baffle to the bottom of your bird feeder is a great way to prevent a rat from climbing up and getting all your bird’s seed!
You should also keep feeders away from trees, walls and sheds – if they can climb off something onto the bird feeder, they will do so.
Hanging feeders in trees is great for the birds, but also easy for rats to get the seed – they are good at tree climbing, and can even hang upside down on branches to get at the tasty seeds.
Here’s a video showing you the tenacity – and climbing ability – of rats, when there’s food about:
Will A Bird Bath Attract Rats?
Sadly, the short answer to this question is yes, a bird bath will unfortunately attract rats.
Mice can survive for up to a month without water, unbelievably, but rats need to drink, and they will thrive where there is a water source.
Birds can fly off to find water wherever they can, so if you want to keep the birds but lose the rats, the first thing you should do is get rid of the bird bath.
Yes, I know it’s cute to watch them splashing about in the bird bath in the hotter months – but if you want to avoid a rat problem then you should definitely avoid a bird bath!
Obviously rats will find some way of drinking – after all, there are puddles and gutters and things – but removing an easy water source is a good way of deterring them.
Feeding birds is a wonderful thing – but you might end up feeding other, less savoury creatures as well.
If you want to feed birds without encouraging rats, have a read through how you can do this so that you can enjoy our feathered friends without the added furry ones.