Hello. In this update I want to share some suggestions from the Northumbrian Water team on how to discourage rodents from people's gardens.
Bird feeders don’t actually attract rats; it is the easily available seed and other types of bird food at ground level that keeps the rats coming. Discarded seed thrown out by birds and poorly stored seed are probably the most common causes of this. Fortunately, there are easy ways to help stop the rats.
Stop Feeding Birds For A Few Weeks
As already mentioned, the easiest way of seeing less rats in your garden is to remove all sources of bird food. This method goes against everything we want to do as birders or bird feeding enthusiasts. Why can’t we feed the birds without rats getting involved? Unfortunately, the two go hand in hand. If you can bear to remove your feeders for a short while, it may just do the trick… but their return is almost inevitable if they live in your area.
Make Your Garden Less Rat Friendly
Rats like to hide out in dark corners, under sheds or in holes near to those places. Making your garden as clean and exposed as possible will help to deter rats from living there. They may still visit but at least if they are not permanent residents you are in with a chance of seeing them less. Close up any easy entry points to your garden – under fences, between plants. Run something around the base of the shed to prevent rats getting under there and taking shelter. Check for holes in building walls; plastic air bricks are easy for a rat to gnaw through, have them replaced with stone ones if possible.
Good garden hygiene is also key. Don’t leave any scraps of food on the ground after a family BBQ. Brush away and tidy up any discarded bird food under your feeders. Don’t overfill your feeders in the first place. Keep bins and bin areas secure and inaccessible to rodents.
Stop Using Incorrect Seed Or Feeders
A main cause of seed appearing on the ground around a bird feeder is the feeder allowing seed to fall out. There are specific types of feeder for certain types of seed. Don’t use a feeder with large feeding ports. As the seed either falls to the ground as rodent food, or collects around the outside of the feeder making a mess.
Avoid Seed Husks
A popular favourite among many birds is the black sunflower seed. Unfortunately, they can be messy. The problem is the husk, which birds do not eat and have to peck off to get to the edible content inside. The husk falls to the ground and leaves a noticeable mess. Maybe choose an alternative seed type.
Move The Feeder Away From Branches
If you are getting rats on your bird feeder they may not have to climb the pole to get there. If your feeder is near a tree branch or other place a rat can jump from, move the feeder away. By doing this you are eliminating at least one way a rat can access your feeder.