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auntthelma

A rat has discovered our bird feeder!

11 months ago

How can we discourage him? We have covered the seed with cayene pepper. He seems to like spicy food. We added cinnamon sticks to the feeder and the plantings below and I guess he likes fall flavors. We have chipmunks, squirrels, ducks and the occasional turkey at our feeders in addition to the chickadees, cardinals and finches plus we have a cat, so we don't want to use traps or poison.


Any ideas?

Comments (31)

  • 11 months ago

    I think you're stuck with him.

  • 11 months ago

    Where are the hawks when you need them?

  • 11 months ago

    You could try the commercial hot pepper seed if you first tried just sprinkling pepper.

    But if your feeders have a lot of ground spillage and you encourage other rodents ( meaning make accessible) , you will get the good, the bad, and the ugly. Or if the feeders are hung so that rats can climb, you’re toast.

    I use squirrel- buster feeders to reduce squirrel activity and bring in at night because….’possums, raccoons, rats. Bought a Hefty high- top plastic tote sized for feeder and vice versa( use relatively short feeders ~13”high). Also picnic water coolers work as tall- ish varmint- proof feeder storage.

    You could also try suet cage feeders, which many birds will like but stuff doesn’t fall on ground. If easy to climb on however you might still be feeding the vermin.

    auntthelma thanked marmiegard_z7b
  • 11 months ago

    Yes, I get mildly irritated at the wonderful photo shoots of bird feeders scattered around a property, something to see from every room, all bursting with seed to last for days, no baffles or acrobatic hanging devices or ingenious pulleys. And of course birds like sparrows prefer eating seed on the ground. And water sources which are incredibly helpful to encourage birds but also … raccoons! I know many people who feed the neighborhood raccoons- dishes of cat food and water on the back steps.

    I had to create a balance between seeing some birds daily from kitchen, porch, deck- and have had a nice array over time, at least 15 or so different regulars—but at least limiting what’s available to the endemic rat population. There is always some wayward seeds falling , or tossed out by picky birds, that the squirrels and chipmunks are constantly hopeful for, and at night, other varmints.

  • 11 months ago

    We can see him. we have named him Rat-boy.

  • 11 months ago

    I live in the city so I only can feed the birds in the morning from my front porch and make sure all is gone. I leave water in the back for the birds and they do appreciate it. They have learned to adjust to eating when I can feed them. We have too many squirrels near too. They come and knock for food at my front door. We have had a few raccoons and an occasional possum but the rats I can watch any day from my yard in the neighbor's garbage cans. The squirrels eat a hole in the lids and/or sides of our carts so they all can have access. Day or night!!

  • 11 months ago

    I use a shoe box sized box. I cut an entrance hole in the box, about 2” diameter. I place a baited rat trap in the box.


    The box is to prevent my dogs from getting hit by the rat trap. I get several rats per year and about a mouse per week. I live in a forest.


    In CA it is illegal to feed wildlife. Maybe because of the number of rodents neighbors want to feed and foster…mothering instinct?

  • 11 months ago

    A Mat, that is a great idea. thank you.

  • 11 months ago

    You can try that, but if you have at- will birdseed available, I think the rats outnumber you.

  • 11 months ago

    Under our bird feeder


  • 11 months ago

    @jrb451 Oh boy they look like a fun crew!!! I can not use a feeder here at all. The mean city squirrels would have it in a tree somewhere.

    @A Mat - I used a clear plastic container larger than a shoe box. We have big city rats. haha!! I did the same and cut a larger hole cut out and then I could lift the lid to bait again. Last week I think the garbage men tossed it in the hopper because it was no where to be found. I had it near my back gate. Last Summer while planting I caught 4 babies in one day with traps. I bought a black box but they never went in the thing. The bait was never touched. I think it was too small. The clear container worked so much better. I have to make a new one. I got sick of taking rats off the traps so I can reuse them. The city comes are puts bait in holes. That is all they can do. Many people including me have a dog or two so I can't have the bait out and the traps I put where she can't go. My trouble is I catch a sparrow and not a rat when using traps and I get upset so I stop for awhile.

  • 11 months ago

    This is why I don't feed the birds....rats, and a squirrel too. We have a pet bird outside who tosses some seed out, so rats do come for that, and even tho' I try to "get" them, no luck. Hope you can find a solution.

  • 11 months ago

    Fill the feeder first thing in the morning and lay a tarp under it to catch spillage. Take down the feeder and pick up the tarp at night and put them inside.

  • 11 months ago

    Rat-boy comes to the feeder in the morning. He is not shy.

  • 11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    They scare the life out of me when it is dark and they run across my feet on the patio. Good luck!! I would love to not have to deal with them varmints.

  • 11 months ago

    Is the feeder on a pole of some sort? If he has to climb to get to it, you can put a collar around it he can't get past. I guess they are called "squirrel baffles". :)

  • 11 months ago

    We moved the feeder. It is a pole with hanging platforms. It had been by a boulder that was a perfect jumping point to the lowest platform. We will see.

  • 11 months ago

    “ Our “ rats in past ( as well as squirrels) were able to climb poles— at least the rough iron type. You may still need a baffle. But if it was the squirrels jumping and knocking seed to ground, perhaps things will be better.

  • 11 months ago

    Get a slingshot and practice.

  • 11 months ago

    i put safflower seed in my feeders and the squirrels don't care for it and leave the feeders alone.

    perhaps a rat might do likewise?

    the other desirable birds enjoy the safflower seeds, which are a bit expensive. if i went back to black oil sunflower seed, the squirrel and deer would empty it in a day's time.

  • 11 months ago

    It is for this very reason I don't feed the birds either. No matter what sort of feeder you have or how careful you may be, it will attract other, less desirable wildlife. And it is not as if the birds are going to starve without your feeder - they are quite capable of foraging on their own.

    I only hang hummingbird feeders. Rats and other nasties can't get to them

  • 11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    The rats have found that they can’t jump into the feeder since we moved it away from the handy boulder. They are still there, but we see them less often. Here’s hoping they find a more accessible feeder or another better food supply.

    Not only do we have a bird feeder, but we also have fruit bushes and a pond. Along with a lovely thick hedge for hiding in. So our yard is a great place for small creatures to live. We get chipmunks, squirels, tons of birds, rabbits, raccoons, turkeys, occasional deer and, of couse, the rats.

  • 11 months ago
    last modified: 11 months ago

    I had feeders until we had a rat infestation because of contruction work across the steet. several neighbors had rats at feeders.

    i am incredulous that any one would treat rats on their property as anything other than a potential crime against person and property. They are not begine. they damage property, destroy crops and catty disease. Be sensible and get ride of the bird feeder.

  • 11 months ago

    Marie, what was your solution? We cant use traps because we have other animals to consider. We cant use poison for the same reason. I did add cayane pepper to the birdseed. It didnt seem to detur at all. Hoping by making the feeders inaccessable, we will encourage them to find food somewhere else. 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

  • 11 months ago

    I posted a few weeks ago that I saw a big fat ol' rat helping itself to the seeds the birds had knocked to the ground from my tubular mesh-covered bird feeder. My contractor and I searched the vicinity for a rat burrow and found some diggings right next to the house foundation a few feet from the feeder pole. We laid a concrete slab about 3' wide outward from the house the whole length of my house. And I added cayenne pepper to the birdseed. So far, I haven't seen that rat again. Squirrels cannot easily access the mesh-covered feeder either, so I haven't seen those as well.

  • 11 months ago

    Aunt thelma

    you may not be happy with our solution we used the guidance of a rat control specialist who had been retained by a number of upper income towns when rat infestations occurred after big building and road construction projects.

    First its a community ptoblem

    unless other people are disposing of garbage properly, cleaning the perimeters of property and removing food and water sources the rats will stay. But you can make your own property inhospitable

    tbc it is late!

  • 10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    BIRD FLU People. All the news has been the last year is to take down wild bird feeders.

  • 10 months ago

    I dont click on links. can you elaborate?

  • 10 months ago

    Have to say, love a vid of a critters trying in vain to get up a slippery pole! A good giggle to be had….
    Is part of the problem that the lovely thin poled bird feeders that look so delicate are too easy for little paws to grip? Maybe a thicker (wider diameter), slippery or greased cover pipe to make the bird feeder a harder climb?

  • 10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I took down all my feeders (squirrels, raccoons, and chipmunks mostly) and have been planting natives. I have lots of trees, too, on my little half-acre. Tons of birds this spring and summer, although it seemed we had fewer last year when I first took the feeders down. All I put up now is suet in winter and spring. Have to say, the squirrels get at that as well, so I may stop doing that, too.

    This morning, I heard Carolina wrens, house wrens, sparrows, cardinals, robins, catbirds, blue jays, and a couple of weeks ago and Eastern towhee. Just plant those natives and they will come.

    ETA: I tried safflower several years ago. Didn't faze the squirrels who devoured it just like the sunflower seed.

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