10 Ways to Keep Rats & Mice Away From Bird Feeders

If you’re a nature lover and find joy in feeding the birds in your neighborhood, you’ve probably woken up to find some pesky rodents scrounging through the feed you’ve left in the bird feeders.

We’ve done our research and compiled the 10 tips to help you learn how to keep rats & mice away from bird feeders.

brown bird on red wooden bird house

Quick Answer

The simplest ways are ensuring that the area under the bird feeders is clean, constructing a hard-to-climb bird feeder to prevent the rodents from finding access, using baffles, plastic feeder domes and feed trays, and avoiding platform trays. Alternative ways include using bird feed that does not leave waste behind and cleaning up your neighborhood to keep rodents away from the area.

Let’s cover in detail some of the methods you can employ to keep your area rodent-free.

Best Ways to Keep Rodents Away From Bird Feeders

Unless you’ve got a soft spot for little rodents, you probably don’t want them hanging around your neighborhood, let alone your bird feeders.

Why, you might ask? That is because rodents breed very quickly, and once they’ve determined an area to be a consistent source of quality food, they will find the smallest nooks and the tightest crannies to find shelter.

To keep rodents away from bird feeders is pretty simple but requires some effort and things to keep in mind. So without further ado, let’s get into the main ways you can keep rodents away from bird feeders.

  1. Keep The Area Under The Feeders Clean. This ensures there aren’t any midnight snacking options available. Food usually falls onto the ground from the feeders and is very accessible for the rodents to get their paws on. After sunset, when the birds retreat to their nests, clear away any bird food off the floor, and there won’t be a reason for mice or rats to show up.
  2. Use an Alternative Food Source. Using sunflower seeds is a good solution because birds love to feast on them. If you use sunflower kernels or other options with shells, you will soon discover a mess on the floor that will attract the attention of creatures in the area. Using sunflower seeds ensures there’s no mess and no extra food available.
  3. Attach a Squirrel Baffle. Using a baffle can prevent rodents from climbing up the wooden or metal pole and getting access to the food. It acts as a physical deterrent, and the rodents will have no option but to scurry back down and search for food elsewhere.
  4. Use a Metal Pole. When constructing a bird feeder, it is helpful to use a metal pole because it is much more difficult for rodents to climb when compared to a wooden substitute.
  5. Incorporate a Plastic Dome. Invest in a weatherproof plastic dome that keeps the food sheltered and only allows birds to gain access.
  6. Use a Seed Tray. This serves to capture the seeds and prevent them from falling onto the ground. A greater surface area reduces the risk of food waste finding its way to the floor.
  7. Do Not Use Platform Trays. It is best to avoid using platform trays with large surface areas because it enables access for all creatures to the food.
  8. Do Not Use Extra Large Bird Feeders. Use smaller bird feeders and fill them up only a fraction of the total space. The less food available, the less likely rodents are to find it.
  9. Do Not Use Open Platform Bird Feeders. Avoid constructing an open-space bird feeder to deter rodents from finding access.
  10. Store Bird Food Properly. Avoid leaving bird food out in sheds or open areas because you might find rodent nests nearby.

Types of Bird Feeders

There are various options available when seeking to attract different kinds of birds to your area. Picking the right one depends on personal choice and knowledge of which kinds of birds inhabit your area.

Window feeders: These are attached to windows using suction cups and are ideal for attracting smaller birds. Window feeders allow for nice close-up views of birds and make it easy to observe them in their natural habitats.

Tube feeders: These are similar to hollow tubes that make use of metal feeding ports and are a suitable feeding station for smaller birds like sparrows and finches. Although fairly sturdy against squirrels and rodents, these are sometimes gnawed into by peskier rodents who manage to find access to the food stores.

Suet feeders: This type of feeder can be built using wire mesh and is usually attached or nailed to a tree. Suet feeders usually invite woodpeckers and chickadees and have open bottoms, which force birds to hang upside down in order to get to the food source.

Alternative Food Options

If you do not want to deal with the hassle of constructing certain kinds of bird feeders, you might find it better to buy bird seeds that do not produce any waste.

Why switch to no-waste options: Since all birds are messy eaters, it may be ideal to switch to no-waste feed to avoid an accumulation of undesirable seeds and hulls under the feeders.

Why switch to natural foods: Naturally occurring foods may be an option because birds can swallow them whole and leave no residual waste behind for rodents to find. Some naturally occurring options are worms, insects, half-grinded nuts and berries.

Alternative food options: Another good alternative is to buy specialized seed blends that do not have hulls or kernel shells; these come in specific compositions, each designed to attract certain bird species. No-waste bird foods include full-shelled peanuts, fruit jam, hulled millet and cracked corn.

By changing the types of feed birds consume, you can prevent your neighborhood from getting messy and attracting rodents.

Advantages of No Waste Bird Feed

The main advantage of switching to no waste bird feed is that birds can consume the entire meal without leaving any residual waste behind.

Benefit of Whole Foods: Being able to swallow the food whole results in less effort spent cleaning the feeders and less frequent need for refilling.

Benefit of No Spillage: Less spillage of food results in a lower chance of rodent infestation, which prevents the spread of disease.

Why Rodents Can Be Dangerous

Rats and mice are responsible for the spread of more than thirty five diseases.

Rodent-related diseases: Some of these diseases include Hantavirus and tularemia, which are highly contagious and can be transmitted via touch and by coming in contact with their excrements, urine and saliva.

Best ways to stay safe: The easiest way is to avoid encounters with rodents altogether, refrain from leaving any food sources out, blocking entry into the house via small spaces and implementing the use of traps.

Additional Methods To Keep Rodents Away

If you’re dealing with a serious rodent infestation, it may be worthwhile to invest in a few rat traps. Some popular ones include bait boxes, electronic traps, glue traps and live catch traps.

Bait boxes: These traps are considered somewhat less humane because of the use of poison but are certainly used if the rodent problem is getting out of hand.

Electronic traps: These traps use a high voltage discharge to kill the rats quickly without any prolonged suffering.

Glue traps: Glue traps use a sticky substance to trap the rodent but are also considered inhumane because trapped rodents may sever their limbs trying to escape.

Live catch traps: Live catch traps are perhaps the most practical choice because you can capture the rodent and release it a good distance away from your location.

Take Away

While rodents play a healthy part in the ecosystem, they can quickly become a menace once they start breeding in your neighborhood.

Taking action and considering all the ways described to keep rats and mice away from your bird feeders, you will find that your rodent problem goes away quickly.