Bird feeders are a great way to attract wild birds to a backyard or garden. Having bird feeders is also helpful for protecting wild birds’ health in other ways, such as providing them with freshwater or keeping them safe from cats and other predators. But if rats can find their way into your home, they can make their way into your birdfeeder as well!
Rats are not only annoying and gross, but they also pose a serious threat to the health of your bird feeder. Rats will eat all the seed in your feeder, leaving none for the birds you want to attract!
In the following blog, we will be discussing how to keep rats out of a bird feeder. We’ll teach you 9 ways that can help deter them from coming near it at all. You’ll find some good tips on what type of food you should use and where to put your feeders as well!
Why are rats bad for bird feeders?
Mice and rats are not only attracted to bird feeders for their food, but they also love nesting in the boxes. The rat droppings can carry various diseases such as Hantavirus, which is fatal to humans too! This bacteria that causes a severe lung disease comes from mice or other rodents carrying it on their fur and passing it.
Also, rats are anti-natural predators for many species of birds. In a way, it is nature’s way of keeping the birds’ population down, but this may not be such a good thing if you happen to have an endangered species in your yard that relies on rats as its main food source.
How to keep rats away from bird feeders?
Even though you can’t keep rats out of your feeder with just one method, some things may help! Below I’ll list some easy tips!
Use the right feeder
If the seed in your feeders is too accessible to rodents, they will eat all of it and leave none for the birds. It’s important to use a type of feeder that is difficult for them to reach or clean up after themselves.
If you don’t want to make your feeder a rat dinner plate, then try to avoid using a platform feeder. Because it provides easy access to bird foods due to the open tray.
The tube style or hopper style feeder is an ideal option for keeping rats away. In addition, Squirrel proof feeder also provides a better outcome to deter rats.
These feeders come with advanced mechanism likes weight activation which easily detects rat weight and shut down the food access when rats weight detects ( Won’t work for smaller mice). Also, Select one made with chew-proof material.
The last tip I have for preventing rodents from invading your backyard habitat is by feeding birds on a feeder that’s at least six feet off the ground. This ensures that even if a rodent gets past all of these deterrents, they won’t be able to reach most of the seed anyway because they can only jump about five feet high without any help.
Offer foods that rats avoid
One way to keep rats out of your bird feeder is by providing them with food that they don’t like. Unfortunately, Rats are omnivores, meaning they’ll eat anything they find except a few. This means that a significant number of plants and animals can be on their menu, including insects and birds!
For this reason, You should never leave any kind of seed or nuts outside where they get easy access. Because They will get hungry enough eventually and start eating what’s around them. That includes seeds for your bird feeder—also, Birds who are stopping by for some snacks themselves.
Quick Note: Though Rodents are omnivores, they keep their distance from spicy foods like hot peppers. But, The good part is it won’t affect birds, and they like it.
So, Offering a hot pepper suet or seed mixes will be a good food item to birds to deter rats without harming birds. Also, They like to avoid seeds like nyjer, thistle, and hummingbirds nectar.
Here is our recommended hot pepper suet: C&S No Melt Suet Dough Delights for Wild Birds
Fill a dish with peppermint oil and place it near the entry to your bird feeder. Rats don’t like this smell, so they will avoid coming close.
Another way is by adding a few drops of peppermint essential oil in water and spraying where you want protection from rats.
A baffle is a simple cover that you place over the feeder. This can be especially useful in areas where rodents are prevalent, and they’re able to jump up onto the platform of your birdfeeder from below.
Rats are good climbers as well as jumpers also. So, try to protect the feeder from above and below.
For deter rats, A squirrel baffle is a good option. Though these baffles are designed to keep squirrels away, they perfectly work for other creatures like rats.
One thing, Just remember, don’t place your feeder where they can jump over and get access. So, Everythings depend on the feeder placement.
Avoid making rat friendly garden
Rats are able to borrow, but they’re much better at tunneling through the ground cover. If you want to keep rats away from a bird feeder, eliminate the mulch or leaf litter that encourages them to make their safe house.
Many garden plants are very attractive to rats and other rodents because they provide a safe haven, abundant food source, or both. In general, it is always best to avoid planting any of the following: petunias (especially if you live in an area where rats are common), ivy, fennel (this plant can be their favorite foods).
Want an easy way to reduce the rodents population? Just place a trap on their most common and suspected path where they visit your properties. Also, Don’t forget to provide attractive bait likes bread, bacon or cheese.
Keep Food Off the Ground
Birds make so much mess when they are taking food. So, It is a common thing that seeds also drop into the ground when they are taking a meal.
That also invites rodents into your garden and finally invite them to the feeder. You can use a seed catcher, which helps you keep off birds mess on the ground.
Attract owls in your garden
Do you want a natural way to control the rodent population? Then attracts owls to your backyard.
The good things are they like to hunt only at night and don’t eat bird seeds. So, That doesn’t have any effect on the wild birds’ population during the day.
So, Inviting these natural pest controllers in the garden is a fantastic way of controlling the mice or rats population. Remember, Owls likes natural lighting, so avoid lighting your garden for a few weeks.
When every method mentioned above is failed, You need to call or text an expert who can completely terminate the problem.
Note: Don’t call anyone who claims themselves, experts. Do your research for finding the best person. This is an easy task; just talk with your neighbor. Or, follow some forum where you can find an expert by asking a question.
Frequently asked Question
Can you feed birds without attracting rats?
No, it’s not that simple. You can’t just put seed out on the ground and expect rats to stay away. Rats are attracted by food like any other creature, but they also have keen eyesight for movement or sound. So if you want to keep them at bay, there are a few things you’ll need to do.
Will cayenne pepper in bird seed keep rats away?
Yes, cayenne pepper can keep rats away from bird feeders. It deters them because it makes the seeds too hot for their eating preference. Keep in mind that you will need to replace some of your seed every few days as rodents have a tendency to eat through many bags quickly, and they are more difficult than regular birds.
Do fat balls for birds attract rats?
No, fat balls are a great deterrent for rats. They’re heavy and hard to get out of the feeder, so it will deter them from trying again.
You can also put peanut butter or bacon grease around your birdseed if you want to attract more birds but not as many rodents!
Will rats avoid my garden after stopping bird feeding?
Rats are very territorial and will not leave your garden just because you stop feeding them. One way to keep rats away is to use a rat poison bait station near the bird feeder, which should be checked every few weeks for effectiveness. You can also install some kind of barrier along an open border, such as chicken wire or metal mesh, to prevent rodents from entering your property in the first place.
Do rats even like bird food?
Yes, rats are omnivores and will eat a variety of food sources. They might be attracted to your bird feeder if they can smell it from the next-door neighbor’s yard or find their way.
3 thoughts on “9 Tips how to Keep Rats Out of a Bird Feeder: Deterring Rats”
Please don’t promote the use of rat poison. You have mentioned owls here, and these and other birds of prey have had their numbers decimated by consuming poisoned rodents. Snap traps or electric traps – some which can effectively kill 60 to 80 rats before the batteries even need to be changed – are inexpensive. Poisoned rodents die slowly, making them easy prey for hawks, owls, dogs, and cats.
Agree. It is irresponsible to promote the use of ANY poison that an animal can ingest and suffer an agonizing death, in addition to poisoning and destroying the ecological food chain. There are many humane traps to use and release the rodents elsewhere.
I love my resident squirrel family. But I have a Japanese Garden with moss and the rats love the moss to burrow under. I can’t find a way to get rid of them and keep my squirrels. What we really need is a rat food with birth control. I wouldn’t mind a couple. But they are so prolific!!