Novato, California

Michael Gedney & Shih-Po Hsu

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Novato, California

Vintage Oaks at Novato,
104 Vintage Way, Suite A-7
Novato, CA 94945

Phone: (415) 893-0500
Fax: (415) 893-0511
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Located between Macy's Furniture/BevMo and Pier 1.

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Rodent Remedies

Done correctly, bird feeding will not attract rats. In almost all cases, rodents seen feeding on birdfood are already present in the area: hanging up a feeder will not make rats suddenly materialize, but it can make the local residents more visible. Woodpiles, dense ivy patches, and openings in buildings can provide attractive shelter and habitat, while accessible garbage, pet food, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens are common food sources. You will probably need to address some of these issues to permanently reduce your rodent population. But from the birdfeeding side of the issue, there are two things that need to be done:

  1. Keep rodents off your feeder.

  2. Keep food off the ground.

We can help you achieve both of these goals and are always happy to discuss your birdfeeding with you. If you know others who are having a negative experience with birdfeeding due to rodents, please recommend them to read these tips, give them a copy of our Rodent Remedies flyer, or send them to us for advice. We've helped thousands of people feed birds without problems and know what works. Now read on to start exploring solutions—and don’t give up!

Non-Birdfeeding Preliminaries

  • Remove as much rat shelter as possible. Potential problem sites around your home include openings in buildings, brush and debris piles, stacked wood, and thick patches of ivy and other groundcovers.
  • Prevent access to food sources. We place bird feeders where we can watch them, so we often see rodents there quickly. But there are many other rodent food sources that we do not watch so closely. Make sure rodents cannot access garbage, pet food, stored birdseed, dog waste, BBQ grills, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees.

1. Keep Rodents Off Feeders

Offer foods they generally don’t eat:

  • Hot Pepper Suet CakeHot Pepper suet or Hot Pepper-treated seed. Birds will not be affected by these foods, but they are highly distasteful to mammals. Hot Pepper suet cakes are easily substituted for other flavors, while loose seed or other foods can be treated with liquid hot pepper "squirrel sauce". Our seed cylinders are an extremely easy way to offer hot-pepper protected food that will draw both seed and nut-eating birds.
  • Nyjer for finches. Nyjer is a tiny seed which goldfinches will crack open to eat the edible interior; squirrels and rats are generally not interested in this seed. We have heard of rare instances of animals damaging mesh finch socks; we recommend solid tube feeders with feeding ports specifically sized for Nyjer to prevent this. 
  • Hummingbird nectar

For seeds and nuts, use feeders they can’t access:

  • A freestanding pole with a baffle will block climbing animals
  • A hanging dome baffle will protect feeders hanging from trees
  • Weight-sensitive feeders shut out rodents. See examples of these feeders, as well as the baffle techniques described here, on our Defeating Squirrels page.
  • Most window feeders are safe from rodents

Pole Baffle

Pole Baffle

Dome Baffle

Dome Baffle

Weight-sensitive Feeder

Weight-sensitive Feeder

We invite you to visit your local Wild Birds Unlimited to get expert advice on choosing the rodent-proof products that work best for your yard. If you don't have a nearby store, you can also find most of these items on our online shop.

Tidy Seed Cylinder Feeder2. Keep Food Off the Ground

Simple no-mess foods:

  • Suet cakes or Bark Butter
  • A non-spilling treat feeder with foods like suet nuggets, mealworms, oriole jelly, shelled peanuts, and shelled sunflower.
  • Cylinders: our seed cylinders offer many of the same popular ingredients found in our loose seed blends, but are stuck together with gelatin. This means that each seed will need to be pecked off by a bird, so less will simply fall beneath your feeder. You can also choose shell-less suet cylinders for a completely no waste feeding station.

Choose good seed:

  • Level 1: No fillers

Poor quality mixes with filler seeds that birds won’t eat are the leading cause of rat-attracting messes. Many of these blends are available at grocery, hardware, or pet stores under the generic name of "wild bird seed". Talk with us to identify bad seeds, but generally look for blends with lots of sunflower while avoiding fillers such as milo, wheat, canary seed, and mystery “grain products.” White millet is not a pure filler, as it will be eaten by ground feeding birds, but it should not be the main ingredient in a general purpose blend. All Wild Birds Unlimited seed blends contain only seeds favored by our local birds, but even if you are getting your seed elsewhere, you can show it to us and we will give you an honest evaluation of its ingredients.

  • Sunflower ChipsLevel 2: No shells

Blends such as our No-Mess Blend use seeds that have no shells, such as hulled sunflower chips, to ensure that no waste is left behind (shells may contain some amount of rodent-edible material). Other no-mess ingredients include chopped nuts and reasonable amounts of hulled millet (it should usually not be the first ingredient).

  • Level 3: Sunflower chips only

The cleanest seed option is to offer hulled sunflower chips only. Offering a single ingredient means that birds will not pick and choose their favorite ingredient, while sunflower chips are the single most widely popular ingredient among our songbirds. (A shelled peanut feeder attracts a slightly different group of birds, but is another excellent no-mess choice.)

Use low-mess feeders:

  • Tube Feeder with TrayAttach a tray to your tube feeders: Depending on the mix of bird species in your yard, switching to pure sunflower chips may completely eliminate food left on the ground. If you don't have enough ground-feeding birds to eat the dropped seeds, the next step is to attach a tray to your tube feeder. A feeder like the one shown to right will drop no food to the ground when filled with sunflower chips.
  • Use Dinner Bells and other feeders with built-in trays. Some feeders are meant to shed seed below for ground-feeding birds. Others are not. If you do not have enough ground-feeding birds to eat the seed that falls to the ground each day, you should use a feeder with a tray.