How to keep rats, mice and squirrels away from your bird feeder?

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If you love bird feeders, then you know one of the tasks of any bird feeder owner is to make sure that pests stay far away from the precious bird food. One of the most annoying–not to mention yucky–pests that are attracted to bird feeders is rats. However, squirrels and mice might look cuter but will still create problems for you and your yard. If you want to know how to keep these rodents far away from your bird feeder, consider the following tips and tricks to keep the them at bay.

1. Weight Sensitive Feeder 

Weight sensitive feeders will shut down any animals–such as squirrels and of course, rats–who try to get a nibble. How do they work? These feeders have a small hole that allows seeds to eaten from by small birds. However, if an animal of significant weight such as a squirrel, blackbirds and rodents attempt to eat from the feeder the hole will shut. The perch itself is weight sensitive and once a certain weight is applied the perch will lower and bring down a wall that blocks the feeder. Clever! 

2. Baffles

You can greatly reduce the chances that rodents will make a feast of your bird food by ensuring that they can’t reach it. Use a taller freestanding pole with a baffle feature to block any climbing animals who try to reach the seed. Ensure that any nearby building or branches do not offer any easy access to jump to your feeders. Rodents, in particularly squirrels are agile and will leap over great distances to reach food.

Baffles such as this Squirrel Guard are known to work best against all types of rodents. They have an exceptionally slippery texture and do not rust at all.

3. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil, Cayenne Pepper,  and Chili flakes have all be known to deter rodents from visiting your bird feeder. Rodents find these smells potent and offensive and will keep away. Put a mixture of these ingredients in a blender with some water. Spray the puree over the column of your bird feeder or on any branches that can give access to the feeder itself.  

Ensure that these product do not get too close to the feeder itself as many birds also find these smells to be offensive.  Follow this article to learn more about what smells keep birds away.

4. Hot Pepper Suet 

Rodents tend to stay away from hot peppers, whereas birds won’t be affected by them. You can discourage rodents from gnawing on your bird food by choosing hot pepper suet or seed mixes with hot pepper treatment, which will be distasteful (but not harmful!) to mammals while still being delicious for birds.

These hot pepper suet nuggets have worked in the past for many people I know!

5. Clean Yard

One way to reduce the chances of rats showing up at your bird feeder is to reduce the chance that they’ll be in your yard at all! To do this, make your outdoor space as unappealing to rodents as you can. Make sure that openings around your home are plugged up, remove any piles of debris, stacked wood, as well as ground-covers that rats and mice love to nest in. You should also make sure there aren’t any rodent-friendly food sources around, such as pet food stored outdoors, open garbage, or even dog waste.

6. No Food on the Ground 

It can be tempting to leave bird seed on the ground, especially since you get to see plenty of birds hopping around on your lawn, but if you find that rodents love your yard then you need to clean the food up as much as possible. Food on the ground is free pickings for rats, so the more often you clean, the less you’ll see them around.

Can bird feeders attract rats and mice to your yard?

 

No, unless you are careless. Ensure that all food is elevated and away from the reach of rodents. Stay away from tray feeders if you suspect rodents are in the area.

Birds eating from feeders can often make seeds fall to the ground. It’s important that the area under the feeder is cleaned regularly to ensure that rodents do not have an easy and reliable food source in your yard. Follow Tip 6 in the list above for more information. Further information on different types of bird feeders available could help you choose the best one for you!   

Are mice bad for your yard?

 

Mice can be of great benefit to your yard if their numbers are kept under control. Mice eat many invasive insects and weeds that can be very helpful for many gardeners. In addition, mice are a great food source for birds of prey like Owls, Hawks and Eagles. If you’re looking to attract these majestic birds to your yard then cultivating a healthy mice population will be very beneficial for you. If you’d like to learn more about Attracting Owls to your yard or Attracting other birds of prey, give these articles a read!

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About Us

We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!

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