If you have ever wondered whether or not having bird feeders would attract rodents and snakes, I have quite the story for you. I’ve also spent some time researching this online so this isn’t one man’s opinion.
Do bird feeders attract rodents and snakes? Fallen bird feed attracts rodents including mice, rats, and squirrels. These critters are food sources for snakes so, as one animal group moves in to feed, so does the other.
Understanding Why Bird Feeders Attract Rodents And Snakes
My wife recently had the wonderful idea of placing a couple of bird feeders under the eave of our front porch. She wanted to sit in the living room and watch the birds. Sounds innocent enough, right? After all, what could be wrong with inviting birds to feed in your yard?
It wasn’t long after this, however, that I walked outside late one evening to find a small brown rat on the front porch, nibbling at seeds that had fallen from the feeder. If this only happened once, I could have discounted it as coincidence. But it didn’t. I noticed this on three different occasions over the next two weeks.
But that’s not what finally broke me. It was the sight of a large snake slithering along the edge of my porch toward one of those little brown rodents. That’s the moment that I realized that my wife’s innocent desire for birdwatching was having serious effects on the ecology of our yard.
What The Experts Say About The Negative Effects Of Bird Feeders
The Internet Center For Wildlife Damage Management states that bird feeders result in increased populations not only of birds but also carnivores (source).
PennState Universities Agricultural Sciences Department notes that bird feeders often cause more harm than good, noting changes to mating habits as well as inhibiting younger bird’s food-seeking instincts (source).
The University of Wisconsin Extension warns of spreading disease between birds as they come into contact with each other’s feces on the feeder (source).
Finally, the Animal Welfare League of Oregon offers a simple answer – “don’t feed the birds”. They remind us that birds are generally self-sufficient and really only require additional feeding during harsh winters and that feeding birds will only serve to attract unwanted scavengers like rats (source).
The Effects Of Bird Feeders Beyond Rodents And Snakes
The City of Worthington, Ohio published a flyer for their residents that outlines the complex impact of bird feeders. These include nuisances like bird feces and attracting non-desirable birds that are drawn to reliable food sources (source).
In addition, the flyer reminds residents that some birds can carry diseases including Salmonellosis, Avian pox virus, and Trichomoniasis.
And of course, there are also bird mites. Yuk.
Changes To Bird Eating Habits
Here is another consequence of bird feeders that goes beyond rodents and snakes.
If birds are eating seeds provided for them, it’s arguable that they aren’t out scavenging. That means the insects that normally make up a portion of birds diets are being allowed to proliferate beyond their normal populations.
This could result in an overpopulation (or infestation) of spiders or any number of other insects that are normally controlled by the birds around your yard.
Nature has a way of maintaining its natural balance. Anytime we get involved we tend to mess it up. By feeding birds, we are tipping the scale on that delicate balance.
How To Maintain A Bird Feeder And Minimize Attracting Rodents And Snakes
If you are truly committed to having a bird feeder, there are some general guidelines and best practices that you should follow.
- Don’t feed in the summer. I realize that this is everyone’s favorite time to bird watch but, as explained in this guide from the University of Wisconsin Extension, food sources are abundant during the summer months. Additionally, the warm weather will encourage the growth of mold on old seeds.
- Clean the birdfeeder regularly. Replace old seeds. Clean and disinfect the feeder to remove germs from bird feces.
- Do not overfill the bird feeder. Excess seed can result in spillage, especially if a squirrel finds its way to your feeder.
- Use a tray to catch fallen seed. Prevent waste and keep things tidy by placing a pan under the bird feeder to catch seeds that fall. It probably won’t catch all of them but if it can catch most and you empty it daily it can greatly reduce the welcoming feast for rodents.
- Buy the right seed for the birds you want to attract. Using a catch-all approach to bird feeding can result in more fallen and discarded seeds, increasing the chances of rodents and ultimately snakes in your yard. You can buy bird seek specialized for your region or the birds you want to attract through Amazon. Click here to see the options available.
Deciding on whether or not to have a bird feeder is a personal choice. For me, the unwelcome guests were just too much. Bird feeders attract rodents and snakes and disincentivize the birds preying on insects like spiders. That’s not an imbalance that I’m comfortable with.
But you can still enjoy the benefits of a bird feeder in your yard with a little forethought and maintenance as outlined above. Just make sure to take the necessary steps to prevent (or at least minimize) your bird feeder from attracting rodents and snakes.
If you are looking for a bird feeder that doesn’t welcome squirrels and other rodents, Amazon has a huge assortment of squirrel-proof bird feeders!