Mice are the most frequent visitors to chicken coops worldwide, and their presence can bring disease to your flock. Find out how to get rid of mice in the chicken coop for good!
Have you found a few small droppings or evidence that mice have been in the chicken coop? You may be wondering why would mice even want to be in a chicken coop? Aren’t they afraid of being eaten?
It comes down to the basics: food, water, shelter, and safety. A chicken coop provides a mouse family with soft bedding, an ample supply of food and water and safety from weather and predators. It’s just too good to pass up!
Mice and rats are a common problem in the chicken coop, but not a problem you have to live with. We’re here to teach just exactly how to get rid of them forever!
Signs you have Mice in the Chicken Coop
Your hens don’t want to go in to roost at night
If your flock doesn’t want to go into the coop at night to roost, they might be trying to tell you something is wrong. It’s time to check for the M & M pest pair. Mites and Mice!
Finding mouse poop
The most common way to know you have mice in the chicken coop is finding mouse poop. We tend to find it on the shelves in our coop, in corners, under and around the food and water dispensers, and in stored items on the shelves.
Check every few days by raking the bedding in the corners and examine the nests for any sign of mice droppings. You’ll most likely find them in corners, against the walls, near the feed, and on shelves.
Bags of feed or treats chewed open
Finding mouse nests
Mice love to nest in quiet, private spaces. Look for their nests in unobtrusive places, like corners, shelves, underneath and inside of stored objects.
Mouse nests in chicken coops usually have a lot of stashed chicken feed, feathers, and fur.
The nest below was found inside a planter that had been tipped on its side and left in the corner of the coop, and the mouse family was still in there!
Is it really a big deal if the chickens and mice co-habitate?
Yes, having a rodent problem can be harmful to your flock because mice carry many diseases. They also eat and taint your chickens food source by using it as both a kitchen and a bathroom.
You may have noticed one of your hens eating a mouse that it found. That is not uncommon but can be another source of danger. The mouse could have eaten poison from your own farm or a neighbors, or have a disease which is then transferred to your hen.
While most people don’t worry about a few mice here and there in the chicken coop, having a giant rodent population can really cut into your chicken feed budget and put your flock at serious risk of getting sick.
How to Get Rid of Mice in the Chicken Coop
Have you found the telltale signs of unwanted whiskered visitors? What do you do now? Removing unwanted guests is the first step.
Stop feeding them
The number one way to get rid of small rodents in the coop is to stop feeding them. If you keep providing them with food, they’ll keep coming back, and invite all their friends! We see leaving food out as an open invitation to rodents, and they do too!
Cut off all food sources so there’s no real reason for the mice to take up residence in your coop. You can do this by switching to a treadle feeder that only your chickens can access.
It’s also a good idea to put all food and treats in a safe place that mice and rats can’t access, like a galvanized steel trash can. If you feed your birds kitchen scraps, make sure they eat them all by nightfall, or remove whatever they don’t eat when it’s time for bed.
Rodent proof the coop
Let me start by saying, keeping mice out of the coop completely is a very difficult thing to do. Mice can easily fit through chicken wire and chew through wooden walls and floors.
They can squeeze through impossibly tiny cracks to access a warm place and sources of food. Many people can’t even keep mice out of their house because they’re so good at finding entry points.
If you want to try anyway, here are some tips:
- Use 1/4 inch hardware cloth to cover any windows or vents to the outside. Mice can easily fit through anything bigger and can chew through screens.
- Put in a concrete floor to keep mice from chewing their way through the floor.
- Fill any holes or crevices with steel wool and cover them.
- Tightly close the coop each night, making sure doors and windows close completely with no gaps.
- Check along the floor and in corners for signs of holes in the inside and outside of the coop.
Mouse traps are generally safe for your flock and the local wildlife, but you need to place them out of reach by putting them in a containment box that only rodents can access.
You really can’t go wrong with this old standard. These traps have been on the market for a long time, and for good reason, they work! For an economical choice we’ve found the Snap-E Mouse Trap to work well, and it’s usable again and again. The only big downside to this trap is the gory aspect of releasing and disposing of the dead mouse. You can use peanut butter or even chicken food to bait the mice in the traps.
The Goodnature automatic trap is another awesome choice for getting rid of rodents in the chicken coop.
This trap kills the mouse instantly with no poison or risk to your chickens. It is a little bit of an investment, but we believe this trap will last a very long time, and it auto-resets over and over, so it’s less work for you.
Colony traps are small metal boxes with a one-way door. An entire family of mice can enter the box, and you can safely relocate them.
The Ketch-All Mousetrap is a great option for catch and release, and it has a clear lid so you can easily see if you’ve caught a mouse or not!
Poison should only be used as an absolute last resort.
To be completely honest, we don’t recommend this course at all, but put it in here in the case that absolutely nothing else is working.
Poisoning mice is a risky business, as you never can tell where the dead mice will end up. Additionally, poisoning is a slow and painful death for the rodent, and it’s certainly not the most ethical way to get rid of pests.
If they die within reach of your chickens, and they decide to eat the dead mice, your chickens will be poisoned too. Alternately, if the dead or dying mouse is eaten by a wild animal like an owl, it will poison that animal as well.
If you do decide to use poison, it should only be placed in containment boxes so that your chickens can’t reach it. If consumed by your flock it could be deadly.
After you get rid of the mice, thoroughly clean the coop by taking out all the old bedding from the floor and nests removing as much of the mouse’s belongings as possible. Scatter new bedding on the floor and in the nests.
Note: Glue traps should never EVER be used to get rid of mice. Glue traps are inhumane in every way. This is not only a very slow and terribly painful way to die, glue traps often inadvertently catch and kill many other creatures, including song birds, snakes, frogs, toads, butterflies, and bees.
How to Prevent Mice in the Chicken Coop
Now the mice are gone, but how do you keep it that way? You don’t want another family of mice to move in!
Look for holes in your coop
A mouse only needs a 1” hole to enter. Cover every opening including the vents, windows, etc. with ¼ inch hardware cloth on the outside of the openings, preventing any access from chewing through the wood.
Place all feed in a steel can with a lid
If you stop feeding the mice, they’ll find another home. The biggest reason you have mice in your coop is because they get a free buffet every day. Keep your feed and chicken treats in a steel bin.
Remove food and water at night
As we said before, chickens sleep soundly and do not eat and drink in the night. You can safely remove their feeder at night and bring it into the house. Mice love to eat while your chickens sleep, so it’s essential to cut off all access to their food.
Plant mint around your coop
Mice hate the smell of mint, so it is a natural deterrent. Mice hate the smell of mint, so it is a natural deterrent. Planting mint around the coop will smell great to you and terrible to mice. As a bonus mint helps deter a lot of insect pests as well.
If you don’t want to plant mint, you could also make your own mint spray using mint essential oil, a spray bottle, and some water. Find out how to make it here!
Adopt a farm cat
Even though the cat doesn’t enter into the inner sanctum of the coop, having it around the outside keeps mice traffic to a minimum. Many animal shelters have special deals on barn cats or “working cats” that prefer to live outside.
Now your bases are all covered, but it’s good to keep an eye out for any possibility of a return by checking the coop weekly for any new openings.
Here’s to a clean and healthy coop life for your flock!