Britain is a nation of animal lovers, we like nothing more than nurturing our garden wildlife be it songbirds, bats, hedgehogs, even deer. Enriching your garden for wildlife is not only rewarding, it plays a huge part in sustaining and developing micro-habitats. Britain’s green space may be decreasing; however, our gardens are here to stay, often forming wildlife corridors that many local wildlife populations have come to depend on. Many of us gain great pleasure from enriching them, whether it’s a ‘bug hotel’, hedgehog houses or feeding the birds; unfortunately, this often presents us with problems relating to rats. Our gardens will nearly always hold at least 1 of the 3 requirements needed to support a rat population: food, water and harbourage. Food is the main culprit when we start to see rodent activity, be it through waste, natural food items such as nuts and berries or bird food. So how to feed birds without attracting rats?
Feeding the birds in your garden doesn’t always have to result in feeding the rats too. If we start by looking at placement of your bird feeder, the more open the better. Rats fear avian predators, they will often take sheltered routes to source food, under vehicles, sides of buildings or any object that affords them shelter. By minimising local shelter and areas they can seek harbourage you can help to prevent providing an area they feel safe to hold up in. An open area will also show up their favoured access route, allowing you to trace back to where they may be coming from. Secondly, try using a bird feeder that minimises the amount of food that is dropped from feeding birds. Seeds, nuts and invertebrates are a firm favourite for rats, they will travel along hedgerows up to 600 metres to feed on these. This home range adds to the problem, a row of terraced gardens that have food on offer are the perfect environment for rats to thrive. Clearing up around bird feeders is a very easy yet effective means to limit free food to rats.
Harbourage (shelter and housing)
Harbourage in the garden is inevitable, whether it’s the compost bin, under the shed or shrubs and bedding plots. The key to managing these areas is good housekeeping. Undisturbed, sheltered areas are the perfect place to harbour a rat population. If you can regularly clean these areas it will help hugely. Limiting what food you put in your compost bin will also help. An established rat population will occupy a compost bin, its warm, sheltered and largely undisturbed; often with an abundance of free food. However, a compost bin is not the usual suspect when looking at rats moving in to a new location. A piece of medium duty wire mesh placed under your compost bin will help prevent them tunneling in.
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Water in the garden isn’t so much of a problem; depending on the setting. If you live near a water source such as a lake, river or stream, these will be of concern. This is where we look at good housekeeping, keeping your garden and surrounding areas clean; prevention is always better than cure.
In most cases, it is not just you harbouring rats in your garden; the cleanest, best kept gardens will always have a risk of supporting a rat population. This can be due to numerous factors such as neighbor activity, location and what industry/services are in your immediate area. Pest management will always be a way of managing a rodent population, be it through non-lethal or lethal means. Goodnatures A24 trap is a responsible, humane and non-toxic tool that can be used to help control a rodent problem. With the goodnature system, conservation is key, there is no risk of secondary poisoning, the rats can be predated on safely. The trap is a passive tool, controlling rats in such a manner that is efficient but not labour intensive. Rats are dispatched quickly and humanely, without any use of poisons, dispatched pests can then be cleared away or left to be scavenged by predators such as foxes, badgers, red kites or buzzards. The Goodnature A24 is an automatic trap, it sets itself and can account for 24 pests before having to change the cylinder that powers it. The perfect tool to compliment a garden that has been enriched for wildlife.
Key areas to consider
- Trap placement – Close to where they are living, try and use natural shelter or create shelter if need be
- Keep bird feeder/table clean, try and minimise spilt food
- Reduce access to compost bin – Place mesh underneath and turn regularly. Learn more about making compost rat proof.
- Tidy up items that can provide shelter and harbourage
- Good housekeeping of outside areas
We hope this has answered how to feed birds without attracting rats, however, If you need advice about dealing with a rat problem please contact us, we offer a range of pest control products and can offer advice on trap placement and use, based on our many years of experience.