Allegedly Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder Not Rat Proof

I set up our CritterCam last night to see who or what was eating all the bird seed. Turns out it was LA’s enterprising city councilmen! Just kidding. It was rats.

This discovery caps off a busy week for urban wildlife in our backyard. A young coyote visited last week and, last night, our indoor cats got in a full on cat fight on either side of a glass door with a visiting outdoor cat.

Our new bird (rat?) feeder has a lever that closes when a heavy animal steps on it. This is supposed to deter squirrels. As you can see from the photos, rats easily hacked their way around this problem by shimmying between the lever and the food. Perhaps I can just weigh down the levers at night but I have confidence our rats will find a workaround. You have to admire their pole dancing abilities and the futility of most human efforts to stop our rodent companions.

I have taken steps elsewhere in the yard to reduce rats. The chicken feed gets locked up at night (the critter cam showed the rats are active between 11pm and 4am) and I try, not always successfully, to keep things neat.

Back in the 90s I worked at a mouse infested TV station. We had a scale model of a set that was being built for a talk show. One of my coworkers had the bright idea to put a camera on the little set and smear it with dabs of peanut butter. Hilarity ensued when we reviewed the tape the next day. Maybe, instead of feeding the birds, I should start an LA Rats Instagram.

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9 Comments

  1. I used to have a bird feeder just outside the front window of the house, for the entertainment of my indoor cats. The birds and the cats liked the feeder, but so did the roof rats. So, I took down the feeder.
    The rats, as you said, are enterprising. They also take big bites out of my ripe tomatoes–if I don’t get to the tomatoes before the rats do.

  2. I read that outing a six inch piece of pvc around the pole would keep rats or squirrels from climbing. idk

    • Here in Australia councils sometimes put metal or plastic collars on trees to stop possums. From the look of the cam pictures, these rats might be able to climb that sort of thing – but what if you greased the pole with Vaseline? Or like another poster said, with chili (or a combo!).

    • Here in Australia councils sometimes put metal or plastic collars on trees to stop possums (similar time some other comments). From the look of the cam pictures, these rats might be able to climb that sort of thing – but what if you greased the pole with Vaseline? Or like another poster said, with chili (or a combo!).

  3. Need to switch to flaming hot bird seed. It has chile pepper seeds in it. Birds tongues don’t react to the pepper, but mammals do.

    • What Stephen said. If you don’t want to fork out the extra $$ for pretreated seed, buy some crushed red pepper as cheaply as possible and mix it well into your regular seed. Keeps squirrels and deer out of mine.

  4. What about a collar? A cone shaped flange just below the feeder would stop them climbing up if it was wider than they could reach from their perch on the pole. When you done it would look like you have your feeder perched on top of an umbrella.

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