Author Topic: Rats in Compost  (Read 13585 times)

barkingdog

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Rats in Compost
« on: January 20, 2008, 13:14:20 »
I've discovered that rats are in my compost heap. What should i do to get rid of them and how can I stop them coming back?

barkingdog

glosterwomble

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2008, 13:44:24 »
I had this problem. My heap is made from old doors and open to the environment so I had covered the top in a plastic sheet which was keeping it nice and dry for the little fellows, so the plastic had to go straight away and the heap was watered a bit to stop it being as nice to live in. Then we turned the heap to disturb them, it wasn't nice as they jumped out as we did it but it got them out of the heap. I think you are supposed to then turn it like that now and then to disturb them.
 I also put poison down (in a controlled way so no wildlife could get it) I know a lot of people are anti poison but I had a serious problem with there being quite a lot of rats.

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Old bird

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2008, 13:49:14 »
Hi Barking Dog!!

I also have rats in one of my compost bins and wondered if there was a problem with leaving them there?

I thought that if I did have to kill them then rat poison in the heap - which has a lid - could be the answer - but then if they died in the compost heap will the heap be toxic?

Baccy Man  come on you are the brain on these things!


Old Bird

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2008, 14:24:18 »
No sure there's much you can do - if there's a way in they'll be back. I've got a dalek type one with an open base and they dig under and up. I just give the bin a good kick before I open it so I don't have to see them!

Baccy Man

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2008, 04:50:50 »
There seems to be a widespread belief that rats only eat cooked foods, meat, & fish I don't know where it originated. I have always composted all of them without any problems the only time I see rats is when the river floods & they have to move out of their burrows they get a fork or spade through them & the corpses are added to the compost heap as well. The only times I have had rats in the compost heaps it has been intentional.

The reason most people worry about rats is that they associate them with Weils disease. However only 15-30% of rats are likely to be carriers of Weils Disease the bacteria can only survive in water, and infection occurs when contaminated water enters the body either by swallowing or via an open wound. Once rat urine has dried, infection is unlikely. Leptospirosis, the early stages of the disease, is very rare and its deterioration into Weil’s disease rarer still. Fatalities only usually occur after mis-diagnosis. The number of human cases of Weil’s disease has fallen to particularly low levels in recent years. Temperatures below 4°C and above 37C° will kill the leptospira bacteria.
They can also be carriers of salmonellosis, typhus & pasteurella pestis but these are nothing to worry about either as the chances of infection through your compost heap are minimal.

It is impossible to make your compost bin 100% rat proof, although you can deter rats by lining any access points (ie: the base, sides and top of the bin) with a heavy-duty metal mesh. The mesh holes should be less than 1.5cm in diameter. Chicken wire is not suitable as they will chew straight through it. The most effective mesh is the type used by builders to reinforce concrete. My own bins are not lined with mesh as there has never been a need.
Rats are shy creatures and prefer to be undisturbed. Regular turning of the compost is likely to cause too much disruption for a rat colony to develop.
If people feel it is necessary to use poison to control the rats the corpses can still be added to the heap. The most commonly used poisons will break down during the composting process & it would take an awful lot of rat poison to build up to toxic levels in any case.

Suzanne

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2008, 13:33:35 »
I haven't had rats living in my compost area (pallets tied together with a tarp cover) because I turn it every few months and prod it about a bit - so I think too much disturbance. However I must say over the past year rats in my area have increased quite a bit. This seems to have linked to the floods during the summer and some work on the local sewer system. Now there is more of them they seem quite happy to "visit" my compost heap for potato and other veg peelings. I don't particularly want to use poison as we have lots of wildelfe visiting - but apart from consign my veg peelings to the dustbin is there any other way to deter them.

I had heard human urine poured onto the heap but apart from the collection process, of which I have doubts, and as they live in sewers is this effective.

Old bird

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2008, 15:17:28 »
Thanks Baccy Man

I knew I could rely on you to give me the answer!!

Basically do nothing!!

Old Bird

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twinkletoes

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2008, 16:00:50 »
I don't have rats but I did see a mouse in my dalek once.  I also have mice in the shed.  However, I am a bit wary of "stirring" the compost bins to deter rates because I frequently have slow worms living in it. 
Twinkletoes

Baccy Man

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2008, 17:38:40 »
Now there is more of them they seem quite happy to "visit" my compost heap for potato and other veg peelings. I don't particularly want to use poison as we have lots of wildelfe visiting - but apart from consign my veg peelings to the dustbin is there any other way to deter them.

I had heard human urine poured onto the heap but apart from the collection process, of which I have doubts, and as they live in sewers is this effective.
If you stopped adding food waste it will not stop the rats visiting as they will still come to feed on the worms in the heap. Poison can easily be placed somewhere only the rats will get to it

Human urine doesn't discourage rats but it is good for the compost heap. Cat urine does as they assume there is a predator in the area, if you have a zoo near you you may be able to get hold of some fresh manure from the big cats which keeps both rodents & cats away.

Thanks Baccy Man

I knew I could rely on you to give me the answer!!

Basically do nothing!!
Basically yes but if you do add dead rats to your heap it is advisable to use a spade rather than handling them which gives their fleas a chance to jump onto you instead. Pasteurella pestis (transmitted via flea bites) is becoming more common & harder to treat, in 1998 the first case that showed total resistance to all known antibiotics was reported although the last pandemic ended in 1959 it probably won't be that long until there is a fourth pandemic.

I am a bit wary of "stirring" the compost bins to deter rates because I frequently have slow worms living in it. 
I have lots of slow worms about. In the spring & summer I turn the heaps and the slow worms that are feeding on my worms are fast enough to move out of the way they return fairly quickly so it obviously doesn't bother them too much. During the autumn/winter I stop turning so the slow worms, frogs & toads can hibernate in the compost heaps if they want too.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 17:41:08 by Baccy Man »

VP

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2008, 17:46:41 »
I had rats in my compost bin a few years back. Stirring the heap regularly and kicking the sides whenever I approached didn't deter them - I think they liked the warmth of the rotting compost too much for that!

In the end I had to 'evict' them by turning the heap out into the bin next door. I then lined the base of the bin with galvanised mesh from the local DIY place. That seems to have done the trick - touch wood. There's still rats on the site, but I think they've just gone somewhere where it's a bit easier to set up home. Thankfully not in my bins!

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davee52uk

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2008, 00:30:02 »
I had numerous families of mice in my bins (homemade wooden slats). Then they all stopped living there - I later discovered why, as there was an adder in there. I accidently skewered this when I was turning the bin over. This went off and I have not seen it since.

As for rats, there were loads in a neighbours plot living in a pile of wood. These were poisonned as they might affect nearby chicken coops. The dead rats I just put in the compost bins.

Robert_Brenchley

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2008, 20:17:36 »
Adders eat mice, so it's not surprising they vanished.

Kea

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2008, 11:43:51 »
I put mesh (the type you use for pet cages) under my dalek bins to stop the rats getting in and the bins are secured to the ground with long tent pegs and wire. As I found yesterday this hasn't stopped the rats. They have dug under the wire mesh causing it to drop down and allowing them to crawl through the narrow gap they have made between the bin and the mesh. So I'll have to have a rethink. :-\

Tin Shed

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2008, 12:31:01 »
My plot borders the bottom of our allotment site and there is a brook on the other side of the fence so I have had to except rats in the compost bin as inevitable.
I kick the bin before I open it, but have found that they really chew up the compost which then rots down really quickly - its like having my own personal team of shredders and of course wear gloves every time I do anything with the compost or bin.

Kea

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2008, 16:08:33 »
Yes they do mix it up quite well.

Froglegs

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2008, 22:05:49 »
I find that the Cat pepper dust you get from Wilko's works on the buggers. :)

barkingdog

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2008, 14:17:13 »
Thanks to all!

Council have been today and have put bait in the bins. So fingers crossed I might get some pepper dust from Wilcos tomorrow though for future occasions!

barkingdog

Kea

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2008, 18:09:41 »
So will I.

steveuk

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2008, 22:31:10 »
I am afraid i use rat poison, as the little beggers are also nesting in the horse manure pile under the carpets, as i covered them to stop them getting to sodden lol

If i knew were to start i would LoL
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Columbus

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2008, 08:40:02 »
Hi all,  :)

I gave up using poison as it was costing too much, now I have baited spring traps in my sheds and greenhouse. I mostly catch mice but also rats when they are around. A plot neighbours ferrets get the fresh corpses.

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Re: Rats in Compost
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2008, 08:40:02 »