I've got 5 chickens who all live in a pen that is being attacked by rats. The rats keep burrowing under the walls of the pen and it would be impractical for me to brick it up to keep them out.

What's the best way to keep rats and other vermin out of the pen without harming, or placing at risk, the pets that are in it?

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    While livestock may or may not be on-topic, at heart this is really "how do I keep rats from getting into [insert location]", which feels pretty off-topic to me. – Beofett Oct 9 '13 at 15:50
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    I'm personally on the side of livestock being on-topic, but my point is that whether or not livestock is on-topic is irrelevant to this question. The same answers would apply if it was "how do I keep rats out of my [baby's room/kitchen/pantry/garden]". The question is about the rats, and the chickens are a secondary consideration. At least, that's my opinion on it, and the purpose of this private beta is to determine which opinions are wide-spread enough to become policy. If you disagree, I encourage you to bring it up on Pets Meta. – Beofett Oct 9 '13 at 16:57
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    Have done :) meta.pets.stackexchange.com/questions/81/… – Kezz101 Oct 9 '13 at 17:11
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    I voted to reopen. My reasons are that the size of the pest doesn't matter, we have legit questions about mites and fleas too... – John Cavan Oct 9 '13 at 17:17
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    I vote to reopen as it is a legitimate concern regarding the safety of the pets in question. – Dennis Graves Oct 9 '13 at 17:50

My partner had a similar problem with a bird enclosure and a local company recommended she use a fairly heavy mesh that worked well and solved the problem. The following Garden Zone 403010 1/2" x 1" Mesh 16-Gauge Galvanized Wire Fence available on Amazon looks pretty similar. It was fairly tedious but I left a little overlap on the inside and tacked the wire to the inside of the enclosure using 5 minute epoxy so the rats couldn't simply push it out of the way.

In the case of chickens maybe you could do something similar and leave straw over the top so they don't notice the difference. Regarding the mesh size the following source states this that seems likely:

The smallest diameter hole a small rat might fit through is an important consideration when rat-proofing an outdoor structure against wild rats, and when choosing a cage which will house baby rats. Generally, wire mesh with 1" x 1" holes is considered too large a spacing for young rats, while 1" x 1/2" and smaller dimensions are narrow enough to keep even the smallest rats inside. For rat-proofing an outdoor enclosure the recommendation is usually 1/2" x 1/2" mesh or smaller.

So you might like to consider 1/2" x 1/2" mesh if available in your area to error on the side of caution, but the larger size worked well in her particular case.

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