Humane Way To Kill Rats In The Chook Shed

There are rats living under the chicken shed. We’ve decided we need to tackle the problem on several fronts.
[li]We already store grain and pellets in ratproof containers - always have. They are only getting their food from the feeder. We thought hanging the feeder from the roof by a string would keep rodents out. There are not enough rat-gaffaws in the world to explain how naive and mistaken that was.[/li][li]My father is, as we speak, building a treadle chicken feeder that should help cut down their major food source (bonus! it will keep the sparrows out too!). [/li][li]I have located the rat hole, and am toying with the idea of shovelling used kitty litter down it before filling it in. That should stink up the place a bit and provide them an incentive to move on.[/li][li]The final front that I’m a bit stuck on is killing the rats. I feel it’s going to be necessary to try to decimate their population in addition to removing the food source and making their home smell like Eau de Feline. I’d like to kill them as humanely as possible.[/li]
I don’t want to risk a dying rat staggering into an area where a chicken or a dog could eat the carcass and subsequently be poisoned, so I’ve been looking for other options.

I think the colony is beyond control with rat traps. Perhaps once we’ve got it under control again we can use rat traps to keep it that way, but I think there are a lot of rats under that chook shed. Electrocution traps have the same problem of only being able to kill once a night, with the added drawbacks of being expensive and (I hear) fairly short lived. I’ve been told by a couple of people that they work well, but only for a few months and then they just stop working.

So, what say the Dope? Any brilliant ideas on how to wipe out our unwanted, dirty, smelly, expensive-to-feed, uninvited guests? The rats, not the kids.

You need a bulk trap. One that I know works with mice and chipmunks might also work with rats (although they are possibly more clever). Essentially you take a five gallon container (for rats, you might even want to use a 40 gallon garbage can), fill it halfway with water, smear below the rim with something tasty like peanut butter and put a ramp to the top. The critters climb the ramp, try to eat the peanut butter, fall in and drown. You might put a partial lid on the container to keep the more athletic rats from escaping.

Now whether drowning is sufficiently humane, I can’t say. Also, you want to make sure you empty the container regularly.

The chicken feeder will help heaps, but the rats will still hang around opportunistically for the dropped pellets of course.

How humane do you want to be? If the rats are hanging out under the chook-house, then some strategically placed poisons will serve to cark them but be of little to no risk to the kids or passing birds. Traps are another option, but then your average smart rattus-rattus will just laugh at your attempts to tempt them!

I’ve put together a bucket trap. Basically, I used packing tape to strap a piece of dowel to a 75L bin, and threaded an empty can with both ends removed onto it. I put peanut butter on the tin can, and a piece of wood leaning against the bin acts as a ramp. Pictures for the curious.

Then as I stood there agonising over whether or not to half fill the bin with water (drowning just doesn’t seem humane), I got called into the house to do Mum things and by the time I got back out there… it was dark. I’m not lugging that thing around the other side of the house to the tap in the dark to fill it. So, the trap is out there and set, but if it works I’m going to have a bin full of live rats to somehow dispose of.

use snap traps. you will need to get dead rats daily by whatever means. peanut butter wrapped in bacon on the trigger.

The rat population in our barn cycles up and down. I periodically either set snap traps (and piss off my gf when a chipmunk gets killed), or set up a bait station with poison inside (and keep the dogs away from the barn).

Another option is to offer up your rat population to someone with terriers that like hunting/killing rats. A local guy has Jack Russell terriers and he will bring them to your barn for a workout.

Rats aren’t human, so don’t be concerned about a humane way to kill them.

Did you end up with a can full of live rats? I would have definitely filled the thing with water, myself. :slight_smile:

When we had this problem I plugged the holes coming from under the coop (except one) while the hens were out free-ranging, and piped car exhaust into the rat nest for about 20 minutes. That worked for a few months, then they were back.

Mmmm…more likely you’re going to have a bin with a hole gnawed in it. The water is there for a reason.

Poison is a bad idea. Believe me, I’ve lived on a (hobby) farm and seen what it does to the rats and the animals who prey on the sluggish, easily caught dying rats.

Snap traps are best bet. Or live trap followed by shooting them, as I used to do with invasive squirrels.

My experience with snap traps wasn’t great. You get one chance to catch the rat. If the trap misses on the first attempt, the rats learn to avoid it. I managed to get two rats (out of ~6) with traps before the rest learned, and they never triggered another trap no matter what bait I put in.

As much as I hated using it, poison was the only thing that worked for me n the end.

Cars put out hardly any carbon monoxide these days, although I guess enough carbon dioxide would kill them. An old tractor with the choke half set so it’s burning rich works better–lots of carbon monoxide.

Interesting, I didn’t know that. Given that, I’m surprised it worked.

Well, there aren’t any rats in my trap this morning so at least I don’t have to figure that dilemma out.

I’m going to get some snap traps today.

Eliahna, when I’ve seen those traps made before, the ramp to the peanut-butter-covered-can-of-death ™ ends closer to the can. I’m not sure your rats are going to make that leap. Maybe tack another board to the end so they can get closer?

The most humane way to kill rats is to hire a professional rat exterminator who uses dogs. The part that is work is figuring out a way to get all the rats out in the open (you may have to dig under your henhouse), and also confined in one area. The dogs (specially bred terriers) will kill all available rats in a couple minutes. They are unbelievably fast killers. No prolonged suffering, no poison, no traps. One shake and the rat is dead.

I am completely serious about this, this is a real thing. Maybe there is someone working in your area. You’d find them by asking at feed stores, farmer supplies; some places have working terrier clubs.

Eliahna - I think the water is an important component of the trap.


Get an electric rat trap.

Doesn’t necessarily need water. You could fill it with carbon dioxide which is heavier than air.

How big is this chicken coop and how high off the ground? Can it be moved?