Rats can be a serious nuisance and health hazard for backyard chicken keepers. Not only do they eat your chicken feed, but they can also attack young chicks and eggs, spread disease, and contaminate food and water sources.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to keeping rats out of your coop: use hardware cloth or steel wire mesh to seal any openings, remove nearby food sources, keep the coop and run clean, use traps and baits strategically, and get a rat terrier if possible.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep rats out of your chicken coop, run, and yard area for good.

Block All Entries and Openings

One of the most effective ways to keep rats out of your chicken coop is to block all entries and openings. Rats are incredibly skilled at finding small gaps and holes that they can squeeze through, so it’s important to be thorough in your efforts to seal off any potential entry points.

Use 1/4-Inch Hardware Cloth or Steel Wire Mesh

To prevent rats from getting into your chicken coop, it’s essential to use 1/4-inch hardware cloth or steel wire mesh to cover any openings that rats could squeeze through. This material is strong enough to withstand the gnawing and scratching of rats, while still allowing for adequate ventilation in the coop.

Make sure to secure the cloth or mesh tightly to the coop walls and floors to prevent rats from pushing their way through.

Seal the Bottom Edges of Coop Walls

Rats are excellent climbers and can easily scale the walls of your chicken coop. To stop them in their tracks, it’s crucial to seal the bottom edges of the coop walls. This can be done by using a combination of materials such as concrete, metal flashing, or even heavy-duty plastic.

By creating a barrier at the base of the walls, you’ll make it much more difficult for rats to gain access to your chickens.

Check Doors, Windows, and Vents

Don’t forget to thoroughly inspect all doors, windows, and vents in your chicken coop. Rats are skilled at finding even the smallest openings, so make sure to seal any gaps or cracks with weatherstripping or caulking.

Additionally, consider installing door sweeps to prevent rats from sneaking in underneath doors.

Remember, blocking all entries and openings is a crucial step in keeping rats out of your chicken coop. By using 1/4-inch hardware cloth or steel wire mesh, sealing the bottom edges of coop walls, and checking doors, windows, and vents, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of a rat infestation in your coop.

Remove Nearby Food Sources

One of the most effective ways to keep rats out of your chicken coop is by removing any nearby food sources. Rats are opportunistic feeders and will be attracted to any available food. By eliminating their access to food, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of them infesting your coop.

Here are some steps you can take:

Clean Up Feed Spills

Make sure to clean up any spilled feed around your chicken coop. Rats are attracted to the smell of food, and even small amounts of spilled feed can be enough to attract them. Regularly sweep or vacuum the area around the coop to remove any leftover feed.

This will help to discourage rats from coming near your chickens.

Secure Food Storage Containers

Store your chicken feed in secure containers that rats cannot access. Rats are excellent climbers and can easily chew through plastic bags or containers. Invest in metal containers with tight-fitting lids to keep the feed safe from rodents.

Additionally, make sure to seal any gaps or openings in the containers to prevent rats from squeezing their way in.

Manage Compost Piles

If you have a compost pile near your chicken coop, it’s important to manage it properly to avoid attracting rats. Rats are attracted to decomposing organic matter, so keep your compost pile covered and turn it regularly to speed up the decomposition process.

Avoid adding any meat or dairy products to the compost, as these can be particularly enticing to rats.

By following these steps to remove nearby food sources, you can significantly reduce the risk of rats infesting your chicken coop. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to keeping your flock safe and healthy.

Keep the Coop and Run Clean

Keeping your chicken coop and run clean is an essential step in preventing rats from infesting your chicken coop. Rats are attracted to food and waste, so by maintaining a clean and hygienic environment, you can significantly reduce the risk of rat infestation.

Remove Droppings and Waste Daily

One of the most important tasks in keeping your coop clean is to remove droppings and waste on a daily basis. Rats are attracted to the smell of chicken feces and leftover food, so by promptly removing these sources, you can discourage rats from coming near your coop.

Use a shovel or rake to scoop up the droppings and dispose of them in a sealed container away from the coop.

Disinfect Surfaces and Litter Weekly

Regularly disinfecting the surfaces and litter in your chicken coop is another crucial step in rat prevention. Rats are known carriers of diseases, and their presence can put your chickens at risk. Use a mild disinfectant or a mixture of vinegar and water to clean the coop’s surfaces, including nesting boxes, perches, and the floor.

Additionally, replace the litter weekly to maintain cleanliness and discourage rats from nesting.

Clear Out Clutter and Debris

Clutter and debris provide hiding places for rats, making it easier for them to establish a presence in your chicken coop. Regularly clear out any clutter, such as old feed bags, unused equipment, or piles of wood, that may be lying around the coop or run.

By keeping the area tidy and free from unnecessary items, you create a less inviting environment for rats.

Remember, keeping your chicken coop and run clean is not only important for rat prevention but also for the overall health and well-being of your chickens. By following these simple steps, you can create a clean and safe environment that is less attractive to rats.

Use Traps and Baits Strategically

Snap Traps

One effective method to keep rats out of your chicken coop is by using snap traps strategically. Snap traps are simple and affordable devices that can quickly and efficiently catch rats. They work by luring the rats with bait and then snapping shut when triggered.

When using snap traps, it’s important to place them in areas where rats are likely to travel, such as along walls or near entry points. Remember to always use caution when setting snap traps, as they can be dangerous if mishandled.

Live Traps

If you prefer a more humane approach, live traps can be a viable option to catch rats without harming them. These traps allow you to capture the rats alive so that you can release them far away from your chicken coop.

Live traps are usually made of wire mesh or plastic and have a door that closes once the rat is inside. To attract rats to the live trap, you can use bait such as peanut butter or fresh fruits. Make sure to check the trap regularly and release any caught rats in a safe location away from your property.

Rodenticide Baits

Rodenticide baits can be an effective method to control rat populations in your chicken coop. These baits are formulated with poison that is attractive to rats, causing them to consume it and eventually die.

When using rodenticide baits, it’s crucial to follow the instructions carefully and place the baits in secure bait stations to prevent accidental ingestion by other animals or children. Keep in mind that rodenticides can be harmful to the environment and should be used as a last resort.

It’s important to note that while traps and baits can help control rat populations in your chicken coop, it’s also essential to address any underlying issues that may be attracting rats. This includes securing any potential entry points, keeping the coop clean and free of food debris, and storing chicken feed in sealed containers.

By implementing a comprehensive approach, you can effectively keep rats out of your chicken coop and ensure the safety and well-being of your flock.

Get a Rat Terrier

If you are struggling with rats in your chicken coop, getting a Rat Terrier can be an effective solution. Rat Terriers are a breed known for their exceptional hunting skills and ability to catch vermin, including rats.

Here is a complete guide on how getting a Rat Terrier can help keep rats out of your chicken coop.

Breed Overview and Temperament

Rat Terriers are small to medium-sized dogs that were initially bred for farm work, including rat hunting. They have a strong prey drive and are highly skilled at catching rodents. With their muscular build and quick reflexes, they are natural-born rat hunters.

Additionally, Rat Terriers are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and friendly nature, making them great companions for both humans and other animals.

Training Tips

To maximize the effectiveness of your Rat Terrier in keeping rats out of your chicken coop, proper training is crucial. Here are some training tips to consider:

  • Start training your Rat Terrier from a young age to develop their hunting instincts and obedience.
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to motivate and reward your dog for displaying desired behaviors.
  • Introduce your Rat Terrier to the chicken coop gradually, allowing them to familiarize themselves with the surroundings without overwhelming them.
  • Teach your Rat Terrier basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it,” which can be useful for controlling their behavior around the chickens.

Supervision Requirements

While Rat Terriers are excellent rat hunters, it’s important to note that they should never be left unsupervised with your chickens. Rat Terriers have a strong prey drive, and if left alone, they may harm or even kill the chickens they were meant to protect.

Always supervise your Rat Terrier’s interactions with the chickens to ensure the safety of both animals. Additionally, provide your Rat Terrier with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom, as this can lead to destructive behavior.

For more information on Rat Terriers and how they can help keep rats out of your chicken coop, you can visit https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rat-terrier/.


By following the preventive measures outlined in this guide, you can successfully keep rats out of your chicken coop and yard areas. With a bit of diligence, you can protect your flock and their feed while avoiding the risks and nuisance of a rodent infestation.

Your chickens and eggs will stay clean and healthy, and you’ll have one less thing to stress about as a poultry keeper.

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