When you have animals, rodents and pests are often drawn to the area.
If you are a domestic duck owner, you might have seen one of your birds hunting a rat.
This seems like an odd choice for duck food.
Ducks can kill rats, although it isn’t a common behavioral trait for these farm animals. Ducks are not the best way to keep a rodent population in check, but they can help in conjunction with other methods.
Keep reading to learn why ducks kill rats, how rodents can endanger barn animals and more methods to keep your duck coop free of pests.
Do Ducks Eat Rodents?
One of the drawbacks of having a farm or just animals, in general, is the pests you attract.
When you have stores of grain and freshwater sources, wild animals come looking for it.
Unfortunately, one of the most common scavengers is rats.
If you have backyard ducks, you will inevitably see at least a handful of rats near your food stores at some point.
Ducks are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat.
A normal diet includes:
- Pellet Food
- Aquatic Plants
But ducks will sometimes add small rodents to this list.
Ducks and other poultry, like chickens, can kill mice and small rats.
However, most are not drawn to hunt rats the same way other species like cats are.
If a duck kills a small rodent, this behavior is likely due to hunger or aggressiveness.
A hungry duck will eat any rats it kills.
An aggressive drake might go after a rodent nearby as a source of amusement.
A more aggressive breed of duck is more likely to exhibit this behavior.
However, ducks will only kill a few rats here and there.
They are not apex predators and shouldn’t be trusted to exterminate large rat populations on your property.
Rodents reproduce quickly, so two rats can turn into dozens in a short time.
A handful of ducks simply can’t keep up.
You would need to expand your group and hope some new ducks had a penchant for hunting rodents.
Ultimately, it is not recommended to use ducks as your primary pest control.
Rats can hurt them as well, and they also carry diseases.
Related Reading: Will ducks eat goldfish?
Can Rats Hurt Ducks?
Rats can hurt animals much larger than themselves due to their sharp teeth, claws, and intelligence.
Despite their size, they are natural predators.
They are sneaky hunters and will sneak into coops to steal duck eggs or even baby ducklings.
Ducklings are small and defenseless, leaving them extremely vulnerable to predators.
If you have ducklings or want to keep your duck eggs safe, you will need to take steps to keep them safe and limit rat populations.
Your adult ducks are also susceptible to rat attacks, especially if they are on the smaller side.
Rats can bite, scratch, and even kill ducks.
Unfortunately, your feathered friends have rounded beaks and flat feet, which are not great for defense.
Additionally, the stress from the attack of predators can negatively affect egg production.
Can Rats Make Your Ducks Sick?
Even if your animals and the wild rats have a neutral relationship, your animals are still at risk.
Rats get a bad rap for disease and illness, but this is founded in truth.
Rodents, especially ones in more populated areas, carry nasty diseases.
Sometimes they will simply be carriers, meaning they can infect other animals without experiencing the sickness themselves.
If a duck eats an infected rat, it might get sick.
How to Get Rats Out of Your Coop
Numerous other methods exist to keep rats out of your duck and chicken coop.
Unfortunately, keeping them at bay will take time and usually multiple methods.
Keep the Food Secure
The main draw for rodents is food.
If you eliminate easy access to your poultry’s food stores, rodent families will be less interested in your coop.
Rodents’ sharp teeth help them chew through otherwise solid materials like plastic and wood.
Keep your food and grain in metal containers to provide the best protection.
Not even a rat population can chew through metal feed bins.
Keep the coop clean of feed waste and pet waste.
The best time to clean your coop is before nightfall.
Ensure no loose food is lying around to entice unwanted dinner guests.
Even though it’s gross, rats will also eat duck waste, so clean up poop inside the coop.
If they don’t have ample access to animal feed in the coop, they will have no interest in paying a visit.
One way to keep food safe and reduce the cleaning you need is using a treadle feeder.
Treadle feeders are automatic chicken and duck feeders.
When a duck steps on the metal plate, the feeder will open.
This means your birds will have constant access to food day and night, and you don’t have to worry about a rat getting into the food.
Since the feeders are metal, mice can’t chew through them.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to take away access to drinking water, so thirsty rat and mouse populations will come for it, too.
Keep the Coop Secure
Even with the food stored properly and the coop kept clean, hungry rodents might be interested in the waste your ducks leave around.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop them from pooping overnight after you have already cleaned the area.
Secure the coop to make it difficult for anything to get in overnight.
Rodents can chew through chicken wire, so you need to use something thicker like hardware cloth.
Use 1/2″ inch hardware cloth to create a barrier around the coop and run.
Bury it a foot into the ground to prevent anything from burrowing underneath.
Also, put the hardware cloth over any windows and openings.
This also keeps your backyard animals safe from attacks by predators.
Place successful rat traps around any curious rats who investigate the coop.
Check your local regulations to see what traps are allowed.
Glue and snap traps are always fine, but you need to ensure your birds and other non-target animals don’t step on them.
Certain strong smells are unpleasant for rodents.
One option is to plant mint around the coop.
They dislike this smell, and on the plus side, it may make the area smell better to you!
Do not place rat poison in the area as tempting as it is.
Not only can your animals get in it, but they could also ingest the poison if they eat a poisoned rodent.
Finally, use a guard animal for rodent control.
The most common options are cats and rat terriers.
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