two turtle doves, and a raaaat in a christmas tree
November 25, 2016 2:31 PM   Subscribe

we live in the woods in northern california and want to decorate a large pine tree for christmas which currently lives about 15 feet from our front door. it will be staying where it is; we want to add some natural-ish decorations which could maybe feed the several species of birds that live around us. how festive. however, this being the country, we also have wood rats aplenty. the last thing i want to see on christmas morning is our tree filled with rats. is there a way to feed the birds without encouraging rats? or should we just dress the rats as soldiers and recreate the nutcracker suite in our front yard?
posted by andreapandrea to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you post a picture?

If the trunk has enough space around it, you could build a baffle like this.

A lot of the tips related to rodent-proofing birdfeeders seems to apply.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:08 PM on November 25, 2016

Could you do what people often do with bird feeders that dangle down from the tree making them still accessible to birds (but not squirrels) - or are these smart rats who will figure this one out?
posted by Toddles at 3:08 PM on November 25, 2016

I was going to say much the same as above - do the same as you would to rat/squirrel-proof your bird feeders anywhere you would put them. Looking at squirrel-proof feeders on Amazon there are a few in a festive red, and most of the others look like they could be made to be festive.

If you do manage to get the rats to co-operate with a Christmas tableau, please do update with pictures in MetaTalk...
posted by Vortisaur at 3:15 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is what they sell hot pepper birdseed for! Deters rodents; birds can't taste it. Any decent pet food or bird supply place will have hot pepper bird seed or suet that you could hang from a tree. You could probably make some at home, though I haven't tried.
posted by Drosera at 3:40 PM on November 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

...dress the rats as soldiers and recreate the nutcracker suite in our front yard
This please. With pictures and video of your family gathered round the tree singing "and a raaaat in a pine treeee".
posted by BoscosMom at 5:31 PM on November 25, 2016 [14 favorites]

Seconding the squirrel-proofing and also the hot pepper birdseed thing; it's not actually harmful to anything, but painful to rodents. You can essentially just buy some chili oil and shake a batch of birdseed with it in a plastic bag. Wear gloves/goggles.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:56 PM on November 25, 2016

The hot pepper is the way to go. Capsican affects mammalian pain sensors. Birds don't have that pain receptor, and the taste doesn't phase them.
posted by coberh at 7:44 PM on November 25, 2016

There was a post on the blue a few days ago strongly discouraging pepper in bird feeders (warning: has a description of animals in pain).
posted by Zenobi at 7:23 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

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