Rat on a bird feeder.

How do I get rid of rats in the garden

Why do I have rats in the garden.

We often get asked how to get rid of rats in the garden, but often the question should be why do I have rats in the garden. There may be several reasons why you have been unfortunate to end up with rats in the garden, but it is important to understand what has attracted them. We will cover the following during this blog:

  • What causes Rats to migrate.
  • What attracts rats to set up home in my garden.
  • Recommendations to maintaining a bird feeder.

What causes rats to migrate.

Rats move from area to area for several reasons, first is the simple fact that they are not safe where they are. A good example of this would be rats living in their natural habitat in a farmer’s field of crops and then when the farms harvest their crops, they cause all manner of creatures to move on, this can be rats and mice for that matter. Another example would be building sites with lots of noise, banging and machines.

Rats also migrate if their food sources are depleting and they need to find new sources of food. This also ties in with another reason, which is overcrowding, if there is lots of rats all competing for the same food source then this causes problems as the food runs short, so rats move on to search for more food. Also, adult rats will happily eat babies, young and adult rats, which is why a female will move areas if she is pregnant and food is sparse, to protect her young. Rats are very intelligent as well and they will restrict their reproduction if food is short.

Flooding is another common problem that will cause rats to migrate. Rivers are renowned as a good spot for rats to set up home. There are plentiful food sources and water to drink. Therefore towns such as Maidstone and Tonbridge can have a health population of rats living down by the river. This is not to much of a problem until flooding the winter months. The river banks over flowing can waterlog the rats home and cause displacement of the rat population.

What attracts rats to set up home in my garden.

For a rat to survive, it is basic, it needs food and water and if they are present then they will set up a burrow or rats nest. If you have a rat problem and they are setting up home in your garden, then this is what you should be looking out for. Water is difficult as it could be an upturned flowerpot, a puddle or a pond. The most common food source in the garden normally, would be a bird feeder.  As a pest controller we are always looking out for a feeder and pond as we often find a rat’s burrow close by.

Food source for a rat in the garden.
Bird feeders offer rats a food source.

Rats love bird feeders but more importantly rats love poorly managed bird feeders as there will be a constant food source all over the floor where the birds have come in and made a mess. In this picture a resident has set up this large array of bird feeders in the communal garden and rats have moved in. What’s worst is around the bottom of the feeder is loads of plants and bushes which gives the rats cover from view. There was also a bird bath present which gave a good water source so the rats dug burrows in the bushes next to the building a couple of meters away from the feeders.

Rat burrows that could lead into the cavity wall.
Rat burrows found close to the bird feeder.

Recommendations to maintaining a bird feeder.

The most effective solution would be to remove the bird feeder completely to get best results. If you want to maintain the bird feeders, then we advise placing the feeders out in the open as rats don’t like to expose themselves unless they must. Ideally position it as far away from the house as well. Try putting a tray underneath and clearing it before last light that way there is no scraps for the rat. We also recommend you limit the food during the summer as there is so much food about for them.

In the winter when food supply’s deplete for the birds, you should be able to work out how much is required daily. There is nothing stopping you putting the feeders out for set periods as well, the birds will soon learn the routine. Put them out in the morning and then collect them in on the tray you have put under at the end of the day.


Brown rat close up | Pest Infestation Kent
Brown rat foraging for bird seed in the undergrowth.

With good management you can feed birds without attracting rats to your garden, but it does need to be looked after. You will need to carry out a rodent treatment running along side this if you have rats in your garden. If you need further advice or information about this then Pest-Tech would be more than happy to help. We are a Maidstone pest control company working in and around Kent so more than happy to help if we can.

Contact Us