I love feeding the birds. I often lose hours at a time, admiring the different varieties and listening to their beautiful song as they visit my garden.

However, I am aware that many people choose not to feed our feathered friends for fear of attracting rodents.

If bird feeders do attract mice and rats is there any way of preventing it?

Mice and rats are opportunistic feeders that love seed almost as much as birds, and feast on the waste that they leave behind. They forage on the ground beneath feeding tables and stations on the hunt for spilt seeds and hulls.

Remember, bird food is mouse food and will attract rodents.

There are several things worth trying to enable continued safe bird feeding.

How to Keep Rats Away From Bird Feeders

  • Hanging bird feeders are safely out of reach, however, they do allow the seed to drop to the floor. Invest in feeders with built-in seed trays to catch the excess. There are seed trays that fit directly out the pole, they catcher a greater amount of seed and provide a further platform for the birds.
  • Ground feeders are a no-no, they are an open invitation to rats.
  • Baffles are a great way of preventing rodents, including squirrels, trying to get anywhere near the food. They are inexpensive plastic domes that sit on the centre pole.
  • Clean the area regularly. Sweep up any discarded seed as often as possible, it can go straight back into the feeder.
  • Buy no-waste food such as sunflower hearts, shelled peanuts, and suet. They contain no outer shell and therefore create no mess.
  • Safe repellents are available that have a good success rate. They effectively deter rodents and don’t harm birds, children, or pets.

If you think you might have a rodent problem, it might be worth suspending bird feeding until you have resolved the issue.

Install bird feeders as far away from the house as possible and store the seed in an airtight, rodent-proof container.

It is recommended to fill the feeders at the bird table, not inside the house to prevent attracting mice indoors. I fill mine at the garden table in a large deep-sided tray that collects any overspill.

Don’t overfill the feeders, feeding little and often makes more sense. Fill the feeder in the morning and top it up when and if the birds eat it all.

Finally, the birds won’t eat overnight and the rodents will. It’s worth bringing your feeders indoors overnight to stop your bird feeders attracting mice and rats.