Rodent- Proofing Your Chicken Coop

Many chicken owners have rodents living in their chicken coops.  It makes sense, since rodents can easily find food and shelter in most chicken coops, and they can get through very small holes.  Here's how to solve a rodent problem in your chicken coop, and prevent rodents from getting in it in the first place.

To keep rodents out of your chicken coop:

Rats and mice can get through very small spaces, so inspect your whole coop for spaces that you can fit your finger through.  These spaces allow mice and rats to get in.  For small, individual holes, stuff steel wool in the hole and seal it in with spray foam.  Alternatively, cover the holes with hardware cloth secured with nails.  1/4 inch hardware cloth is sufficient to keep rats out, and 1/8 inch may be needed to keep out small mice.  For larger holes, hardware cloth is the best barrier.  If your coop is constructed out of chicken wire or hardware cloth with holes greater than 1/4 inch, cover these areas with 1/4 inch hardware cloth secured with zip ties. 

A rodent-proof coop needs regular inspection and maintenance to stay rodent-proof.  You may need to fill new gaps, or replace the steel wool or hardware cloth you have filled holes with.  Trimming vines and bushes away from the coop also helps keep rodents away, since they do not have as direct of a path to get to the coop.

If rodents are already living in the coop:

Rodent-proof the coop, then livetrap the rodents that remain inside and release them outside the coop (not off of your property, since relocating rodents to unfamiliar locations is inhumane).  Make sure you use a trap that is designed for rodents- it should not be made of mesh greater than 1/4 inch.  Baits that work well for catching rats and mice include peanut butter, honey, and avocado.  Don't bait the trap with chicken feed, since the rodents already know where to get that.  Instead, use something that rodents can't normally get from inside the chicken coop.