Asked on Jan 17, 2019

How do I get rid of a family of rats who are under & in the hen house?

KcMiss DebNancy Turner


Last spring we enclosed our wood shed and added what we thought was a very secure pen. We got baby chicks which we kept in the house until they had feathers and were big enough to move out to the hen pen. Those hens have been laying for months now. In June we got more chicks. About a month ago, the younger hens began laying. There are currently 7 hens and 4 roosters.A few months ago we noticed that something was digging under the pen. We had placed extra fencing along the ground and part way up the sides of the pen to keep critters out. Even though we could see the holes, we had not seen critters and assumed the fencing was doing its job.Last week we discovered a family of rats had gotten in and taken up housekeeping inside the warm hen house, with the chickens. How do we evict the rats without harming the chickens? Traps, poisons and even the live trap will all be as effective on the chickens who are beautiful and not quite as brilliant as their uninvited guests.

5 answers
  • Snake fencing will work. It will be a job, but well worth it to save your babies. I live in a semi rural area and that is what the people use out here.

  • Pam
    on Jan 17, 2019

    Rats travel at night, so you could put traps outside the pen. Since rats can get through any hole their head will fit through you might try hardware cloth where they are getting in.

    • Miss Deb
      on Jan 17, 2019

      Good idea about trying to get them at night. I would think they could chew through hardware cloth but I'm not familiar with it.

      Thanks for this idea.

  • Nancy Turner
    on Jan 17, 2019

    Rodents don't like mint, perhaps introducing some mint extract dripped on the ground inside the enclosure would get them out so that you can put up fencing that will keep them out. I would look for the way they are getting into the chicken pen itself if it has flooring. There may be a space in a corner or somewhere that they can squeeze through.

  • Miss Deb
    on Jan 17, 2019

    Thanks, will try mint

  • Kc
    on Jan 17, 2019

    I would add a floor of hardware cloth and bring it up the existing wire cage fencing.

    Have you checked the roof and trusses for evidenceof gnawing? Rodents will climb as high as necessary to stay snug and warm. You might have to enclose the ceiling with caging if you haven't yet done so.

    Keep using the live traps and bait with food a rat will eat but is less appealing to chickens like peanut butter?...probably.

    Good luck. To "ground squirrel proof" our shed, we recently used masonry lath screening around the exterior ground and then bent it up against the wall. We back filled with gravel and buried as much a possible 'cause this stuff is razor sharp scary.

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