Do birdfeeders attract rats?

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WTW | 20:11 Sat 25th Jun 2011 | Twitching & Birdwatching
31 Answers
My brother has been asked by his neighbour to remove his hanging birdfeeders, as she believes they are attracting rats in neighbouring gardens.

I know that the advice is not to leave out more food out than is generally consumed daily so not to attract unwelcome garden visitors, but I think that that relates to ground food.

Admittedly, there is spillage from hanging feeders, but by and large that is eaten by Dunnocks, Wood Pigeons etc.

I'm not convinced that any spillage not eaten that day will attract rats that night. I think it is more likely that there is local rat problem for other reasons.

Given his obvious enjoyment at watching birds in his garden, should he resist removing the feeders, and how does he prove that they are the root cause?

Any thoughts/ideas, particularly based on personal experience?

Many thanks.


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no more than keeping rabbits or any other pet outside where their food and waste is accessible
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Sorry, next to last para should read "how does he prove that they are NOT the root cause?"
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Whether you leave food out or not, there is always a rat not far away. I'm with the above, tell your neighbour to get stuffed.

I recently started keeping chickens and I was told this would attract rats - not seen (or smelt - very distinctive because rats are incontinent) one. Mind you, I do have four cats.
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Maybe he could go out before dark and sweep up any spillage, and tell the neighbour that he'll do that. I think that's more compromise than he has to make. My sister and BIL had a rat problem for a short period and were really worried esp for their dogs. The neighbour used to feed birds on her garage roof and the number of birds there was incredible, so I think that was the problem. When she left the rat problem vanished overnight. I've read that feeders are supposed to be safer.
Unfortunately our bird feeders did attract rats with all the seed and bits of nut which fell from them. We suddenly became infested one spring and had to address the problem.

We didn't stop feeding the birds but got a couple of bird tables instead. They have a facility for hanging a feeder above the tray and nothing falls off. The wood pidgeons still share with the sparrows and others. Problem solved.
some one i know had also been advised to stop leaving hanging birdfeeders as it was suspected they were attracting rats to the garden, so now she brings the bird feeders in at night.
I get squirrels at our bird feeder (allegedly squirrel proof, but they've worked out how to swing on it to shake food out). Never seen any rats, though. Plus pigeons, as you say. I don't think there'd be much left for rats.

I'd say the same as Trim: ignore the neighbour. If there are rats around, it's not on the off-chance that there'll be a bit of bird food spilt. Bin bags and suchlike are much better food sources.
I think there is probably another reason the rats are present. And if rats are that hungry they'll eat bird seed, they'll also be eating plants and grass!

And your brothers neighbour is a complete pudding!

He does NOT need to prove the bird-feeders are a problem.
yes my experience is that bird feeders attract rats. In my own garden I have seen them in the daytime on the feeders and climbing up bird tables. Its a real issue around me even though i live in a "nice" area. We have to keep all the rubbish in metal bins till it goes out as they chew through plastic ones and i had to get rid of the compost heaps because what they couldn't eat (including the bins) they nested in.
it does need a concerted effort on the part of all the neighbours to not put more bird food out than can be eaten quite quickly (30 minutes or so), not have rubbish lying around where they can get at it, clear undergrowth in gardens and so on.
So my experience your brother's neighbour could have a point....
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PS I have two large hunting dogs who will track and chase ANYTHING and that didn't deter the rats. Bird seed and specialist bird feeds are a valuable source of food for rodents!
Birds don't need additional feeding at the moment. Why not try stopping the feeding for a month and see if the rat situation changes.
You've got to go to any nature reserve to see that they certainly attract rats. Viewing from a hide at Attenborough nature reserve you can see the whole family of them below the bird feeders. An air rifle would soon sort out the buggers.
I would ask the neighbours to remove themselves, as with timersaurus on this one. It is his own yard to do what he likes with it. I have fed the birds at mine for years, and have never seen sight nor sound of a rat anywhere.

Have any of you fellow ABers got rats where you are, and I do not mean pet ones?
Yes, johnny, as I've said I have had plenty of rats but I've controlled it by removing the source of food which was crumbs from bird feeders.

I'm in the countryside and they'd nested in the hedgerow but rabbits have moved in now and simply taken over! Family of 6 on the lawn as i type:-)
Jonnyboy have you read this thread before replying YES I had rats because they were attracted to the birdfood.
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