Does Bird Seed Attract Rats?

Watching colorful birds visit your backyard feeders can be a delightful part of everyday life. But the bird seed that attracts your feathered friends may also catch the attention of unwelcome visitors – rats.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Bird seed itself does not necessarily attract rats, but the seed that gets scattered on the ground from messy feeders can provide a food source that appeals to rats.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll dive into the connection between bird seed and rat infestations. We’ll explore what types of seed and feeders rats are drawn to, tips for discouraging rats from bird feeding areas, signs of a rat problem, and when to call in professional help for removing rats.

Do Rats Eat Bird Seed?

Many bird enthusiasts enjoy feeding their feathered friends by putting out bird seed in their gardens or on their balconies. However, this raises a common concern: do rats eat bird seed? It’s important to understand that rats are opportunistic eaters and will consume a wide range of food sources, including bird seed.

Rats as Opportunistic Eaters

Rats are known for their ability to adapt to different environments and food sources. They are opportunistic eaters, meaning they will consume whatever food is readily available to them. This includes bird seed that is left out in bird feeders or scattered on the ground.

Rats are attracted to the high nutritional content of bird seed and will not hesitate to consume it.

Types of Bird Seed Rats Prefer

Rats have their preferences when it comes to bird seed. They are particularly fond of seeds such as sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn. These seeds are high in fat and provide a good source of energy for rats.

If you have bird feeders that contain these types of seeds, it is important to take precautions to prevent rats from accessing the feeders.

Feeders Prone to Seed Scatter

Some bird feeders are more prone to seed scatter than others. Tray feeders or platform feeders, for example, can easily be accessed by rats, who will then scatter the seed on the ground, attracting even more rats.

Tube feeders with small feeding ports are less likely to be accessed by rats, as they are designed to only allow smaller birds to access the seed.

To prevent rats from accessing bird seed, it is recommended to use feeders that are designed to deter rats. These can include feeders with weight-sensitive perches that close off the feeding ports when a heavier animal, such as a rat, lands on them.

Additionally, placing feeders on poles or hanging them from wires can make it more difficult for rats to reach the seed.

It is also important to keep the feeding area clean and free of spilled or scattered seed. Rats are attracted to areas with easy access to food, so regularly cleaning up any spilled bird seed can help deter them from visiting your garden.

Remember, rats are opportunistic eaters and will consume bird seed if it is available to them. By taking preventative measures and using rat-proof feeders, you can enjoy feeding birds without attracting unwanted rodent visitors.

Preventing Rats at Bird Feeders

Use Seed Catch Trays

One effective way to prevent rats at bird feeders is to use seed catch trays. These trays are designed to catch any seeds that fall from the feeder, preventing them from reaching the ground where rats can easily access them.

Seed catch trays can be attached to the bottom of the feeder or placed on the ground beneath it. They not only help reduce the scatter of seeds but also make it more difficult for rats to reach the food source.

Choose Feeder Styles that Minimize Scatter

Another way to deter rats from bird feeders is to choose feeder styles that minimize scatter. Some feeders are designed with special features such as baffles or built-in trays that prevent seeds from being scattered around.

These feeders are designed to make it more difficult for rats to access the seeds, as they are less likely to be scattered on the ground. Opting for these feeder styles can help keep rats at bay while still providing food for your feathered friends.

Clean Up Scattered Seeds Daily

Regularly cleaning up scattered seeds around the bird feeder is essential in preventing rats from being attracted to the area. Rats are opportunistic feeders and will be drawn to any available food source.

By promptly removing any seeds that have fallen to the ground, you can minimize the potential attraction for rats. Dispose of the seeds in a sealed container or bag to prevent rats from accessing them.

Position Feeders Away from Building Edges

It is important to position bird feeders away from building edges to discourage rats from accessing them. Rats are excellent climbers and can easily scale walls to reach feeders that are too close to buildings.

By placing the feeders at a distance from any structures, you create a barrier that makes it more challenging for rats to reach the seeds. This simple step can help keep rats away from your bird feeders and prevent any potential infestations.

Remember, rats are attracted to bird seed primarily because it is a readily available food source. By implementing these preventive measures, you can minimize the risk of attracting rats to your bird feeders and ensure that the feathered visitors in your yard can enjoy their meals undisturbed.

Signs of Rat Infestation Around Feeders

If you are an avid birdwatcher and love feeding birds in your backyard, you may have wondered if bird seed attracts rats. While it is true that bird seed can attract rats, there are certain signs you can look out for to determine if you have a rat infestation around your feeders.

By being aware of these signs, you can take necessary steps to prevent rats from causing any damage or disturbance.

Seeing Rats Near Feeders at Night

One of the most obvious signs of rat infestation around bird feeders is actually seeing rats near the feeders, especially at night. Rats are nocturnal creatures and are more active during the darkness.

If you notice rats scurrying around your feeders when it’s dark, it’s a clear indication that they are attracted to the bird seed.

Finding Rat Droppings Near Feeders

Rat droppings are another telltale sign of rat infestation around bird feeders. These droppings are small, dark, and pellet-shaped. If you come across rat droppings near your feeders, it means that rats have been visiting the area to feed on the bird seed.

It’s important to clean up these droppings promptly to prevent the spread of diseases.

Chewed or Damaged Feeders

If you notice any signs of damage or chewing on your bird feeders, it could also be an indication of rats. Rats have strong teeth and can gnaw through various materials, including plastic and wood. They may damage the feeders in their attempt to access the bird seed.

If you see chew marks or broken parts on your feeders, it’s advisable to address the rat infestation as soon as possible.

Removing Established Rat Populations

If you have discovered an established rat population in your area, it is important to take immediate action to remove them. Rats can cause extensive damage to property, spread diseases, and contaminate food sources. Here are some effective methods to remove established rat populations:

Sanitation and Exclusion

One of the first steps in removing rats from your property is to eliminate their food and water sources. Keep your surroundings clean and tidy, ensuring that there are no accessible food or water sources for the rats.

Store bird seed and other pet food in sealed containers, and regularly clean up any spilled bird seed or food scraps.

Exclusion is another crucial step in rat control. Seal any cracks or openings in your home or property that rats can use to gain entry. Pay special attention to areas around doors, windows, and utility pipes.

Use materials such as steel wool or caulk to seal these openings and prevent rats from entering your property.

Traps and Baits

Traps and baits can be effective in capturing and killing rats. Snap traps are a common option and should be placed along walls or in areas where rats are frequently seen. Peanut butter or dried fruit can be used as bait to attract the rats to the traps.

Glue traps are also available, but they are not recommended due to their inhumane nature.

Poison baits can also be used, but caution must be exercised when using them, especially in homes with pets or small children. It is essential to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and place the baits in secure locations that are inaccessible to non-target animals.

When to Call a Pest Control Professional

If you have tried various methods to remove rats from your property without success, it may be time to call a pest control professional. Pest control professionals have the expertise and experience to assess the severity of the infestation and develop a targeted plan to eliminate the rats.

They also have access to more potent and effective methods of rat control that may not be available to the general public.

Remember, it is essential to act swiftly when dealing with an established rat population. The longer you wait, the more damage and potential health risks they can cause. By implementing proper sanitation measures, sealing entry points, and utilizing traps or baits, you can effectively remove rats from your property and prevent future infestations.

Bird Feeders and Disease Risks

Many people enjoy attracting birds to their yards by setting up bird feeders. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with bird feeders, including the attraction of rats.

While bird seed itself does not directly attract rats, the presence of bird feeders can create an environment that is conducive to rat infestations.

Diseases Carried by Rats

Rats are known carriers of various diseases that can be transmitted to humans, including leptospirosis, hantavirus, and salmonellosis. These diseases can be spread through direct contact with rat droppings, urine, or saliva.

When rats are attracted to bird feeders, they can contaminate the area with their droppings and urine, increasing the risk of disease transmission.

Leptospirosis, for example, is a bacterial infection that can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and muscle aches. It can be contracted through contact with contaminated water or soil, which can be found near bird feeders frequented by rats.

Hantavirus is another serious illness that can be contracted through inhalation of dust particles contaminated with rat droppings. It can lead to severe respiratory problems and even death.

Precautions for Cleaning Feeders

To minimize the risk of disease transmission, it is important to take proper precautions when cleaning bird feeders. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Regularly clean and disinfect the bird feeders using a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Rinse thoroughly and allow the feeder to dry completely before refilling it with fresh bird seed.
  • Wear gloves and a mask while cleaning the feeders to protect yourself from potential contamination.
  • Remove any spilled or moldy bird seed from the ground around the feeders, as these can attract rats.
  • Store bird seed in sealed containers to prevent rats from accessing it.
  • Consider using feeders that are designed to be rat-proof or elevated off the ground to deter rats from accessing the bird seed.

By following these precautions, you can enjoy the beauty of birds in your yard while minimizing the risks associated with rat infestations and disease transmission.


Bird feeding can certainly draw rats when seed is spilled on the ground, but proactive steps like using quality feeders and cleaning up scattered seeds can help deter rat activity.

Monitoring for signs of rat presence like droppings and damage allows prompt action to remove rodents before populations grow out of control.

With some care taken to bird responsibly and maintain a clean feeding area, backyard bird enthusiasts can enjoy feeding feathery friends without unwittingly feeding rats.

Similar Posts