Birdseed looks very much like rat food to a rat, and a cockatiel cage can attract all sorts of unwanted visitors. Mammals sometimes carry diseases that don’t affect them but are lethal to birds, and wild rats might attack your pets. Pet rats and cockatiels don’t always get on either.
Move one of the cages to a different room. First of all, rats are active at all times of day and night and their constant rustling, playing and gnawing might disturb a sleeping cockatiel. Second, the room forms an extension of the cage when you let your pets out. It is best that the cockatiels and the rats each have their own space, only meeting on neutral territory.
Introduce your pets slowly, starting by placing their cages next to each other in a third room. Eventually, if they all seem to be friendly, you can try letting them out in the same neutral space to see how they interact.
Supervise the rats and cockatiels constantly. If any animal seems nervous or aggressive, curtail the introduction immediately. Never leave them alone together even if they seem friendly. Rats have strong teeth and sharp claws whereas cockatiels have powerful beaks—somebody could get badly hurt.
Purchase a cage with bars set too close together for a rat to squeeze through if wild rats are prevalent in your area—and they are in most. A rat can squeeze through a gap only half an inch across.
Sweep up all spilled food immediately. This is what attracts rats, and the best way to keep them out is to keep them from wanting to get in.
Empty feeders last thing at night and fill them in the morning. Cockatiels don’t eat at night—they are sleeping—but rats are most active then.
Consider rat-proofing the entire room or building, which consists of sealing all cracks and gaps with the appropriate building materials, such as plaster and/or steel wool. Keep in mind that rats have powerful jaws and can chew through a lot; but even temporary measures can make your home less attractive to them.
- Although rats get on well with some animals, notably dogs, they may never become friends with your birds. If they don’t like each other, don’t push it. They don’t need to become best buddies and the best companion for both cockatiels and rats is another member of the same species.
- Among the diseases that a cockatiel can get from wild rodents is E. coli, which can be fatal. If your pet seems ill or listless, make an appointment with your vet immediately and mention that the cockatiel might have been exposed to wild rodents.
- Note that cockatiels are more likely to catch infectious diseases from wild birds than from wild mammals. If you have an outside aviary, it is especially important to get your pets vaccinated.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.