Do Rats Kill Chickens — What You Need to Know

Will rats kill chickens? They will if they can, but it is very unusual for a rat to kill an adult chicken. Do rats kill chickens? The answer to this question is YES.

But hold on a minute. You just said they don’t??? It’s not a simple “YES”. You might, on occasion, find chewed-up chicks in the coop. This is likely to be rats. So, while rats will not likely kill a chicken, they will kill chicks. They also eat eggs.

Do rats attack chickens? Occasionally, they will. It depends on how big the rat is, how hungry it is, and how many other chickens are around.

How Do You Handle Rodent Problems in the Chicken Coop? 

Obviously, prevention is always the best way to avoid problems, whether those problems are tiny, like a virus, or massive, like a one-pound Norway rat.

Brown Norway Rat - Chickenmethod.com

Hey All! I know this is a touchy subject, but it is one that needs to be discussed, so let’s get after it and get rid of those pesky unwanted critters in the coop.

If you’ve been raising chickens for a while, you know that keeping your feathered friends safe is a top priority. C’mon along as we look further into rats.

Types of Rats That Pose a Threat

Norway Rats

First on our list is the Norway Rat, also known as the brown rat (above). These guys are pretty common and can weigh up to a pound. Yikes! They’re ground dwellers and love to burrow, which means they could dig their way into your coop if you’re not careful.

Knowing that they’re ground dwellers, we can think of some methods of kicking them off the property. One way of doing this is flooding their burrows. Be prepared to catch them because they are fast and truly do not want to be caught.

Don’t use gasoline or poison because you could blow yourself up or poison your chickens or other pets if they decide to nibble on a poisoned carcass.

Norway rats are diggers, not climbers. They can climb but are not nearly as good at it as their cousins, the roof rats.

Roof Rats

Roof Rat - Chickenmethod.com

Next up, we have Roof Rats. Unlike their burrowing cousins, these rats are climbers. They’re usually found in places like attics, trees, and even chicken coop roofs. They’re a bit smaller than Norway rats, but don’t let their size fool you; they’re just as pesky.

These are the guys that are chiefly responsible for chewing the shielding off of your electrical lines. They like to climb along pipes, utility lines, etc. 

Cute, aren’t they?

House Mice

House mice - Chickenmethod.com

Okay, so they’re not technically rats, but house mice can still be a problem. They’re much smaller and tend to go for the chicken feed rather than the chickens themselves. However, they can still spread disease and contaminate your coop.

The Danger Rats Pose

So, back to the burning question: “Can Rats Kill Chickens?” The answer is a bit complicated. While rats are more likely to go for chicken feed or eggs, they can threaten chicks and smaller birds. Adult chickens are generally safe from rat attacks, but why take the chance?

“Will Rats Kill Chickens?” you might ask. It’s not their go-to move, but it might bite if a rat feels cornered or threatened. And let’s not forget rats can carry diseases like salmonella, which can harm your flock.

Along with the Salmonella threat, rats carry mites, lice, ticks, and fleas. Are you itchy yet?

Rat and Mouse Comparison

Comparison of Norway Rats, Roof Rats, and House Mice

Attributes Norway Rats Roof Rats House Mice
Body Length 9-11 inches 6-8 inches 3-4 inches
Tail Length 7-9 inches 7-10 inches 2-4 inches
Weight Up to 1 pound 5-9 ounces 0.5-1 ounce
Eyes Small Medium Large
Fur Shaggy, brown Smooth, black or dark brown Smooth, gray or brown
Muzzle Blunt Pointed Pointed

Signs of a Rat Infestation

Alright, so you’re probably wondering, “How do I even know if I have a rat problem?” Good question! Here are some telltale signs:

Droppings

If you start to notice small, dark droppings around the coop, that’s a red flag. Rats aren’t exactly tidy creatures.

Gnaw Marks

Rats have strong teeth, and they love to chew. If you see gnaw marks on your coop’s wood or wire, it’s time to take action.

Stolen Food

Missing feed or eggs? Rats are likely the culprits. These guys are notorious for stealing food right from under your beak—err, nose.

Noise in the Coop

Hearing scuffling or squeaking noises at night? That’s another sign you’ve got some unwelcome guests.

How to Deal With Rats

So you’ve got rats. Don’t panic! Here’s what you can do:

Prevention

The best cure is prevention, folks. Ensure your coop is sealed tightly and you’re storing food in rat-proof containers. Cleanliness is key.

I use galvanized garbage cans with lids for my chicken feed. You could use a cabinet that shuts tightly. An old refrigerator would work amazingly well.

Inside the coop, I use a feeder made of four-inch PVC with a cap on the top and on the bottom. There are pest-proof feeders available at many outlets. I have a link at the end of the article if you want to take a look at them.

Traps

Various types of traps are available, from snap traps to electric traps. Place them near the coop but out of your chickens’ reach to avoid accidents.

My advice is to forget about trying to be pleasant to rats. “Happy” traps that humanely capture rodents for later disposal are only humane in the event that you stay right on top of their use. That is if you check them a couple of times a day. 

You’re better off using snap traps in safe places and getting rid of the carcasses immediately. You can incinerate or bury the carcasses for the most sanitary results.

In my experience, ultrasonic rodent repellants DO NOT WORK AT ALL. Other than that, they are great:)

Poison

This is a bit of a controversial method. While effective, poison poses a risk to other animals and even your chickens if they get into it. Use this as a last resort and with extreme caution… a very last resort.

Natural Predators

Believe it or not, nature has its own way of dealing with rats. Owls, hawks, and even cats can help keep the rat population in check. Just make sure these predators aren’t a threat to your chickens!

Some cats will kill chicks. They just can’t help it. 

Some dogs will kill chicks and chickens. I have such a creature. 

My boy, Chip, is a 90-pound pitbull with no mean bone in his body, but he wants to play with the chickens, and when the chickens are little, he squishes them with playfulness. Well, not anymore…

What’s the Answer?

So, “Do Rats Attack Chickens?” While it’s uncommon for rats to attack adult chickens, they can still pose a significant risk to your flock through disease and food theft. It’s crucial to take steps to secure your coop and keep these pesky rodents at bay.

Call to Arms

Don’t wait for rats to become a problem. Take action now to protect your flock. Check out these rat-proof feeders and also these kill traps that can help you keep your coop secure. Your chickens will thank you!

Thanks for stopping by again. I’m always glad to have you. Please leave any comments you have below.

Dave

Chickenmethod.com

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