When you consider homegrown veggies and fresh eggs, it is not hard to see why people pursue agricultural pastimes at home. From gardens to chicken coops, homeowners have been able to create a farm oasis right at home in their backyards. However, friends and family may not be the only ones to benefit from your produce.
Rats are sneaky and opportunistic creatures that will not hesitate to capitalize on an environment that provides them with food, water, and shelter. Shy and nocturnal, you may not see rats until you have a severe problem. This is due to their prolific reproductive capabilities.
It only takes about 21 days for female rats to produce a litter, and females can produce 6 or more litters a year, especially if resources are readily available. So even if you are only seeing one rat, now is the time to act because it only takes a litter of 5-12 babies that will reach reproductive maturity within 8-10 weeks before you realize that you have a bigger problem.
So whether you have rats, or don’t have rats and would like to keep it that way, preventative maintenance is key because it aims to stop a problem before it starts. These proactive principles are the foundation of integrated pest management, also known as an IPM program. When implemented together, they allow you to take control of your destiny by protecting your home from rat infestations.
Step #1 Sanitation
Don’t create conditions that attract rats to your yard.
Remember rats are opportunistic. So removing easily accessible resources that afford rats with food, water and protection, will deter rats from wanting to come around.
Food & Water
- Remove chicken feeders and waters at night and replace them in the morning. Again, rats are nocturnal and will be foraging for food at night. So while chickens don’t eat or drink at night, rats will.
- Store chicken feed in rodent-proof storage containers. Rat can easily chew through wood and plastic, so metal containers are recommended.
- Rats can find harborage and shelter in a lot of different places. This could be decluttering areas or trimming back overgrown foliage to reduce places for nesting. Wood piles, compost pile, storage shed, or yard debris are just some examples of places where rats might find a cozy home.
Please keep in mind if the rats have a food source, they will be challenging to eliminate.
Step #2 Exclusion
Modifying structures to keep rats out.
Rats are excellent at creating burrows or underground tunnels, they can fit in small openings the size of a quarter, and they can chew through chicken wire. Rats are also great climbers, so it is important to take the time to inspect your chicken coop for any openings.
Since chicken wire does not offer the chickens much protection against predators, use small woven mesh hardware cloth as a barrier to keep rats and predators out. Hardware cloth can be placed under the chicken coop or used to cover the surface of a sturdy floor.
To prevent rats from digging under fencing, you can consider using the hardware cloth to create a skirt around the perimeter of the chicken coop or burying the bottom of your fence.
The only way to completely exclude rats is to enclose the chickens from the top, bottom and sides. Another option would be to choose a chicken coop with raised floors that are open underneath to prevent the rats from having a hiding place.
Step #3 Prevent Population Growth
Take control and with ContraPest®.
Even if you are only seeing one or two rats, now is the perfect time start using the rat contraceptive, ContraPest®. ContraPest works in both male and female, Norway and roof rats to reduce fertility, thereby decreasing the number of offspring produced. Thanks to its non-lethal formulation, ContraPest targets reproduction as the source of rat infestations, while minimizing the exposure threat to non-target animals, families and pets.
Typically, it only takes 24 hours after initial consumption for ContraPest to start impacting rat fertility. As the rats continue to consume ContraPest, they will have few to no offspring. A reduction in juvenile rats is often observed followed by rat population reduction . To keep populations down we recommend using ContraPest continuously. This makes sure that it is consumed by as many rats as possible and prevents future population growth.
Step #4 Reduce Rats in Population
Use lethal methods to reduce number of rats.
Depending on the severity of the rat problem, lethal methods can used in addition to the methods listed above to reduce rat populations. When it comes to rat control, there are a lot of different lethal products out there, but they typically come in two types. Mechanical traps like snap traps for example, and lethal baits like rodenticides.
If rats experience a negative encounter with lethal methods and survive, they can become bait adverse and associate negative experiences with other control tools. For this reason, we recommend ContraPest be kept 15-30ft. way from any lethal methods.