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Bird feeding and avoiding rodents

Birds and rodents both love to eat seeds, so where there's one, there's likely to be the other.

Introduction

Our gardens can be the perfect place for unwanted rodents to make their homes, especially if there is a good source of food, such as bird feed. Rats, mice and squirrels love bird seed and can be attracted to bird feeders or from spilled seeds and hulls. There are, however, some steps you can take towards reducing the risk of a rodent problem:

Remove food and shelter opportunities

Rats and mice tend to venture out of their nests at night so they have less chance of being seen. So, it is a good idea to remove any left-over food from outdoor areas. Clear off bird tables and ground trays each evening, and take down any easily reached hanging feeders at night. 

If you have a shed or other garden structure that could easily be dug underneath then raise it up on bricks to make it less appealing as a rodent home. The bricks will allow a draft and make the space feel more open, and thus discourage rodents from making it their home. Rats only need a gap of 15mm and mice 6mm so it is important to seal up any small gaps.

Cut back overgrown areas and keep piles of wood and comopost heaps tidy. if you have piles of rubbish or untidy areas in your garden this makes an ideal home for rats or mice, so make sure they are removed.

Be sensible about feeding wild birds

If you do feed birds in your garden then we suggest a bird table or a ground table and only place out enough food for one day at a time. Feed early in the day which will reduce the change that food will be left at night. If you are not using a bird table and are scattering food or bird seed then only scatter the minimum amount of food to prevent any food being wasted. Again, this should be cleared away at night to prevent rodents being attracted to the scattered food.

Store your wild bird food securely

Rats are notorious for chewing through anything to get to food, and will climb and access anywhere they can if the food smells good enough. Their teeth are hard enough to chew through materials such as wood, rubber and even low grade cement and concrete. Strong, secure containers such as galvanised metal bins with secure lids are recommended for storing wild bird seed. Although not impossible, these types of storage make it difficult for rats to access your wild bird seed.

Keep your wild bird feeding areas clean

Make sure you clear and clean your bird feeders and feeding areas regularly to avoid a build-up of old food that could attract rodents and pests to your garden. 

Try using herbs to discourage pests

A natural way to help reduce the risk of pests visiting your garden is to grow herbs such as spearmint, mint and citronella. Rats hate the smell of mint and other herbal aromas so they'll avoid areas where these are growing. If you don't want to grow herbs you could try spraying peppermint oil, castor oil or citronella oil around your garden, or soak cotton wool balls in these oils and place them in rodent holes or near areas you suspect they might be present. 

Keep your bins and compost area tidy and secure

Rodents will take full advantage of poorly stored rubbish and badly positioned bins. Always make sure bags containing household waste are not left outside for long periods, and make sure your rubbish is taken away on a regular basis. Bins located close to fencing provides rodents the perfect opportunity to scale the fence and gain access to bin lids. If there is any damage to the bin lid or bin itself then rodents can also gain access into the bin this way. 

If you compost, make sure your compost bin has a tight fitting closed lid to prevent rodents gaining access, as rodents will be attracted to the rotting food. 

If you do think you have a problem with rats please contact us.

Page last updated:
24 Sep 2020

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