Sometimes when you are trying to do something nice for nature, it can come back to bite you. Although some people love them, not everyone wants rodents roaming in their garden which can be a concern with a lot of bird feeder products. Although rats tend to be opportunistic, offshoots from a bird feeder represent an opportunity that is impossible to resist. You may have seen a rat scurrying along your fence in an attempt to reach the feeder, or gathering on the ground which is why you’re asking the question. Let’s take a look at why this is, and what can be done.
Bird Feeders Attracting Rats
Although some types of feeders are better at preventing an opportunity for rats, some basic designs make it easy for them to get their fill. This can be via two approaches. Either they are easy to climb so they can take as much as they like, or the feed falls to the ground with regularity. Even when placed in a tree, a rat can access the feeder without much hassle, they are brilliant climbers after all.
How To Stop A Rat Accessing Bird Feeder Food
A large part of what makes a bird feeder so favorable for a rat is where it is. Anything less than around four feet off the ground represents a chance where a rat can jump up but that isn’t the only distance you need to keep in mind. Because rats can jump better than you might think, it is a good idea to place the bird feeder well away from fences or anywhere else they can launch themselves, at a distance of eight feet as a minimum.
A rat might not be able to access the bird feeder, but if it manages to get to the bag of feed then it will find it easy to access any plastic outer. They can even get through a plastic storage container without much effort so if you are storing the feed in your home or shed, use a metal container to keep it rat-free.
Use A Special Feeder
Use a squirrel-proof feeder to make access difficult should a rat make it onto the feeder. Also, these products keep the feed in place so it is less likely to fall to the ground which can attract groups of rats. They rely on weight on the platform so if a squirrel or rat lands, it will close access to the feed.
Remove The Feeder Overnight
Some permanent structures that go into the ground will not be so. easy to move but since a lot of bird feeders are made for convenience, it should be easy to remove it and store it out of the way. Because rats are at their most active at night, this is a wise approach so they aren’t enticed even if they cannot get to the feed.
Keep The Area Neat
The surrounding areas might be favorable to rodents without you knowing it. Trimming branches so they are not too close to the feeder can stop them from accessing it. Also, by keeping your lawn well mowed, you might find you have fewer rodents since they like to move with more shelter. If you can put the feeder among stones or paving, this can help.
Fill It In Small Amounts
Any excess is likely to find its way to the ground or at the very least, attract rats. The best way of managing a rat problem is by only filling the feeder with a small amount, around what the birds eat daily. This will require more filling on your part but it can keep rats away.
Consider The Type Of Feed
Unless the smaller grain type of feed is ideal for the birds you are trying to feed, it is better to use a product with less of the filler type grains and more of the larger feed types such as sunflower seeds. These are popular with birds and less likely to find their way to the ground.
Clean The Ground
Like we mentioned rats like to come out at night so before you get ready for bed, it can be a good idea to inspect the area around the feeder and pick up any excess on the ground. A seed catching tray can make this a lot easier.
Like an old wives tale, peppermint has proven beneficial for some people who are trying to keep their backyard rodent-free. Since rats don’t like the smell, it can be useful to spray a little diluted peppermint oil around the area on the ground to keep them away.
Will My Rat Trap Still Work If I Buy A Bird Feeder?
Because a bird feeder that provides an easy food source for a rat is going to be more enticing than that in a rat trap, expect to have less success for trapping and removing rats. This is why it is good to invest in a product that is near impossible for them to access the food or wait until you have caught the rat before you use a feeder.
Once they are attracted, rodents don’t always leave the area if the bird feeder is put away so it isn’t a smart move to remove the feeder completely to stop rats from coming back.
Why Are Rodents Bad For A Bird Feeder?
Although many people don’t have a problem with rodents, there are other reasons why it is a good idea to keep them out of your yard. One of the obvious is that they carry and spread disease so if your kids are playing in the backyard, you will want to keep rodents away where possible. In terms of the birds, they can make light work of whatever feed you have in the feeder, emptying it before you have realized they were even there.
Once a rodent has found a food source, they tend to stick around. Not only is it going to mean more work for you when moving them along, but they can attract other rodents who sense an opportunity for a new food source. Also, rats attract other wildlife that can be detrimental to your bird feeder. The small pleasant songbirds you’ve been feeding aren’t going to be so keen at the sight of a bird of prey or a cat.