Bird feeders are rarely to blame for attracting rats into an area. Rats are more likely to be attracted by the odors from pet waste, outdoor pet food bowls, inadequate waste and garbage containers, compost bins, BBQ grills, vegetable garden waste or un-harvested fruits and nuts from trees. Once attracted by these other items, rats may take advantage of bird foods they are able to reach.
To eliminate rats, deny them access to shelter. It is important to remove potential hiding and nesting sites from around your home, such as firewood stacks, brush and debris piles, dense shrubbery, ground covers and ivy. Repair and/or seal openings in buildings using durable materials, such as concrete, metal flashing, steel wool or heavy welded wire.
In dry climates, rats are attracted to sources of water. Remove or repair all sources of free water around your home and yard. These include leaking faucets and irrigation lines, water bowls for pets and all sources of standing water.
Good sanitation practices will effectively control the ability of rats to survive. Eliminating access to garbage, pet waste, spilled bird seed, open compost bins and un-harvested fruits and vegetables is crucial to rodent control.
Here are some tips for avoiding problems with rats in your yard:
- No ground feeding. Bird food scatted directly on the ground can be attractive to rodents.
- Select the proper food. Consider feeding a No-Mess Blend to reduce the amount of scattered seed that reaches the ground.
- Don’t overfeed. Offer only as much food as the birds will eat each day, especially millet. Make sure the birds clean their plate every day.
- Store seed properly. Store seed in a metal, rodent-proof container in an area where rodents cannot reach.
- Keep feeding areas tidy. Sweep, rake or clean up spilled seed and seed husks at least once a week. If possible, place your feeders over a hard surface so your clean-up will be faster and easier.
- Use the proper feeders and trays. It’s important to select the proper feeder to attract the birds you want. Proper trays and screens placed below feeders will eliminate ground spillage. Squirrel proof feeders will deny rats’ access to the seed in the feeder.