Ask the Expert: Rats/Mice
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Rats and Mice
Good afternoon! My chicken house is struggling with rats and mice digging tunnels underneath the dirt floor in the coop and eating the chicken feed! They are a terrible nuisance and I have tried to do my best in getting rid of them by pouring buckets of water down their underground tunnels and killing them. But I have not tried poison yet because I’m afraid if I put it in the coop, my chickens will eat the poison! What would you do?
What a frustrating problem! We will turn to our archives for an answer, as we recently published a few pieces exactly on this issue. The first thing to know is, you are not alone. This is a common issue, and usually can be prevented by keeping food in closed containers, including human food, dog food and chicken food. Storing livestock feed in garbage cans with a tight lid will give you double protection, and at night, hang your chicken feeder high and away from walls, or place the feeder inside the closed can or tub.
There are a few natural deterrents, too. If you plant peppermint around the coop, rodents often find it too powerful. Dabbing cotton balls with 20 to 30 drops of peppermint oil and jamming them into entry points also does the same trick, according to Missy Ames, a frequent writer for Backyard Poultry and Countrysidemagazines.
Now, as far as getting rid of the current mice … You have to do that quickly, as they multiply and they carry disease. Here’s the most foolproof way: If you have a couple friends with cats, we could suggest hiring them for a couple weeks to patrol your coop grounds and start to get rid of the pests. Rat zappers also work, as the mouse crawls inside and is killed immediately.
Finally, do not use poison. You are correct to avoid this, as it’s hard to control, and your chickens will eat it.
Best of luck with this issue, and we hope you can fend off these nuisances.
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