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Preventing ground rodents (1 Viewer)

I have a squirrel proof bird feeder that does a pretty good job, but I've recently had a problem with rodents - rats specifically - feeding on the seeds and shells that the birds have discarded. I had to call an exterminator to get rid of them, and I'm at the point where I'd like to try again but I need advice on how to prevent this from recurring.

The owner of a local wild bird supply place suggested hulled nuts and peanuts on the theory that ground birds will quickly consume the left overs and there won't be any shells or husks to attract rodents. Anyone have any thoughts on this approach or have other suggestions?

I'd really like to have a feeder set up in my back yard, but the prospect of having this problem is intolerable.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

Dave G.

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
A problem many people endure and I think the obvious would be constant, regular at least, clearing of overspill.

If there's food on the ground there will be rodents so you either have to prevent the overspill or remove it, I see no other practical option other than trapping?
If there's food on the ground there will be rodents so you either have to prevent the overspill or remove it, I see no other practical option other than trapping?

Andy, fundamentally that’s right. The idea behind using hulled feed is that the ground birds perform the clean up and leave nothing for the rodents. Sounds great, but I don’t know if that has worked in anyone’s experience.

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Andy, fundamentally that’s right. The idea behind using hulled feed is that the ground birds perform the clean up and leave nothing for the rodents. Sounds great, but I don’t know if that has worked in anyone’s experience.

You need ground feeding birds though, do you have them?


It's true, I quite like Pigeons
My situation is probably unique, as I feed the Pigeons and Squirrels as well as other birds - but a few points... for what it's worth:

  • Birds (and Rats and Mice for that matter) can see much better than people, so if you rely solely on clearing up at night, you'll miss loads of food on the ground.
  • Bearing in mind the above, I rely on the Pigeons (and Mice before the Feral Cats kill them) to clear up any food on the ground
  • Food on the ground isn't the only problem - food buried under ground also attracts Rats (I had a couple of Rats digging up nuts that the Squirrels had buried)
  • You can't leave feeders out at night - any hanging feeders will be an easy meal for Rats
  • Although difficult to accept, Rats/Mice/Squirrels are much smarter than you might think, and it's not a hobby or a game for them, it's life or death.
  • Put something new in the garden, and Mice will investigate it quite quickly... Rats will keep well away for much longer, often giving it a wide berth for days. A simple thing like moving things around in the garden can make Rats feel less safe and less likely to visit... they don't like anything new/different.
  • Rats also need and look for water, so a source of water alone can attract Rats

Killing the Rats won't help much, there's loads more waiting in the wings - you'll just get a short break until the next Rat family finds the food you're offering. You'll need to deny them access to food and water... leave nothing out at night, put feeders and water out in the mornings.

But in the end, you might have to stop feeding entirely - sometimes you can't win ;)


New member
Probably the best and easiest solution would to put large lids under the feeders or buy a no mess feeder so that the food will just stay off the ground and hopefully the rats will go away
Will this help?

Tobasco Sauce and Cayenne Pepper does not work. Red Chili Flakes do not work. Mint oil does not work. Squirrels keep coming back and dissemate your bird feed. Squirrels are curious, persistent problem solvers and if they want your bird feed they are going to get it. After endless internet searches and trying all sorts of methods for keeping squirrels away from my bird food I have figured out a solution.

Remember, squirrels and deer have tongues and are sensitive to chilis. Birds do not have tongues and are not affected by chilis.

I have used this solution for whole peanuts in the shell and for striped sunflower seed.

1. In a tupperware container add desired amount of bird feed.
2. Lightly sprinkle a few drops food grade oil to your bird feed. (I use both olive and canola oil.)
3. Shake bird feed in sealed container vigorously to coat bird feed with oil.
4. Now for the good part - Sprinkle "Carolina Reaper Powder" over bird feed.
5. Shake bird feed until chili powder is dusted evenly over bird feed. (Add more oil, if necessary, for powder to stick.)
6. Feed your birds.

Observations and Suggestions:

Carolina Reaper Chilis are the hottest chilis in the world, so be careful. Wash your hands after this process and "DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES" with your hands or fingers.

My goal is to deter squirrels without harming them. I've read accounts of squirrels clawing their eyes out with similar methods so proceed with caution. The amount of chili powder that's needed will be trial and error. My method is after I've sprinkled my whole peanuts with the chili powder I a put a peanut in my own mouth to gage its effectiveness. (Of course, with a large glass of milk nearby.) Not much of the Carolina Reaper Powder is needed to create an intolerable heat. This makes using the powder fairly cost effective.

I was excited to see what would happen with the squirrels. Several squirrels would eat my peanuts in minutes and leave nothing for my blue jays, grackles, woodpeckers, or cardinals. They would watch me from afar and as soon as I would put my bird feed out they would pounce. So here is what happened when I dusted my peanuts with the Chili Reaper Powder...

The squirrels cavalierly came prancing up to my peanut feeder, giving me the evil eye, of course. A wry smile came upon my face. Then the alpha squirrel took the first peanut as always. Almost immediately I could see a puzzled look on his face. Then he dropped the peanut and and shook his head violently as he ran as fast as he could. The other squirrels got scared and followed. Was I bit worried that I might have harmed the squirrel? Sure I was but only time would tell. It was early evening when I first used this chili method so I did not see the squirrels for the rest of the evening. Even the birds were put off by what they had seen and did not eat any peanuts for the rest of that evening.

The next morning, however, all of my peanuts were gone. I could tell they were eaten by birds and not by squirrels because the squirrels always discard the shells nearby. There were no shells to be seen. Even so, the squirrels came back the next afternoon. I was glad to see that the alpha squirrel had not clawed his eyes out. This time, however, he was far more cautious. I could see him on top of the peanuts sniffing the chili powder, trying to decide whether or not to take another peanut. He did not. His partner then had her turn. She too sniffed the peanuts and walked away.

Then there were a couple of squirrels I had not seen before. They immediately took the peanuts in their mouth and just like the first squirrel violently reacted to the chili powder, dropped the peanuts and ran away. So far, so good! My method is working. I hope this method will work for you too. Please, try and it out and report your findings here. I am also curious to see if this will work with deer and bear.

Good luck.



Well-known member
This short thread has had so many views I thought that I would post links for a couple of the rat traps we use, and successfully too:



Both UK sellers, I have no connection to either.

In addition NHBS have an interesting looking offer, although I've not used these: Albion.

Routine trapping is quite effective, despite what the pan-global pant-wetting no kill lobby will try and tell you, and simply common sense if you have children.

Regards, Steve
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