Author Topic: Rats attacking my compost bin  (Read 7938 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Rats attacking my compost bin
« on: July 27, 2014, 08:06:29 AM »
The city requires I keep food waste compost "contained". In an attempt to avoid buying a ~$100 tumbling style composter, I purchased a couple 30 gallon plastic trash bins, drilled some 1/4" aeration holes in it, and have been composting in that.

It works okay, but the rats living underneath my front porch keep chewing holes in the plastic, scattering waste outside while retrieving whatever food they're eating out of the scraps.

Should I:

  • Break down and buy a tumbler or two
  • Replace the plastic bins with galvanized metal. Not sure if the rats would just chew through this as well.
  • Just keep shoveling the trash back in and let the rats feed

I don't want to encourage rats or other rodentia to breed from my food source but it seems silly to spend a lot of money to compost to get "free" dirt.

Any advice?

Greg

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2014, 09:15:02 AM »
Why not trap the rats?  Optionally, some 1/4" hardware cloth wrapped around the outside might help.

SondraRose

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 10:29:42 AM »
I have never had rodent problems unless someone ( a former tenant) has put cooked food or raw meat in my compost bin.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 10:35:03 AM »
Why not trap the rats?  Optionally, some 1/4" hardware cloth wrapped around the outside might help.

The hardware cloth is a really good idea. Not sure why I didn't think of that!

MayDay

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 11:06:59 AM »
I would probably trap and kill the rats. 

Are you paying attention to your greens and browns?  I never had to in our old house, because the compost pile was under a tree that dumped browns into the bin automatically.  Very handy.  But in this house, I have had to deal with it.  Our compost pile was getting nasty.  Like something died in their rotten stinky.  Once I started adding browns, it went away and broke down more quickly, eliminating the attraction to pests.  I also found that if I put the food scraps on top, raccoons would sometimes come eat from the fresh stuff on the top.  But if I cover it with shredded newspaper or leaves, they leave it alone. 

Fun compost story:  the neighbors behind us are unfriendly at best.  They hate anything we do in our yard, and blamed us for making their view ugly.  When we started our compost pile, the neighbors complained.  They escalated their complaints to the HOA, who had approved it and told them to stuff it.  (Well I like to imagine that last part).  The next thing I know, the health department showed up.  They had complained to the health department that our compost pile was a "vector for disease".  Health department guy made a halfhearted effort to convince me to buy a roller bin, and I told him,sure, he can buy me three and I will use them, but 1.  They are $$$$, and 2. They fill up so fast.  Then he told me that I was just required to limit access (i have a chicken wire fence around it, although it's pointless since most pests can climb over that) and keep it covered with leaves, grass clippings, etc.  The neighbors have been quiet since that incident, but I try to drop phrases like "vector for disease" and "health department-approved compost pile" into conversations whenever possible. 

BooksAreNerdy

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 11:16:03 AM »
We had issues with racoons until we added cow manure to the compost bin. Once dried, the manure does not smell. If that doesn't work, the hardware cloth will. You could also build a compost bin out of pallets and wrap it in hardware cloth. That's similar to what we did, and I built a square frame out of scraps 1bys and nailed hardware cloth to it. I just set it on top of the bin and move it off as needed.


Thegoblinchief

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2014, 04:21:54 PM »
I try to keep the scraps covered, but no paper shredder and I didn't start composting until after leaf season last autumn. This year I plan to stockpile leaves, both to directly mulch garden beds for over winter and for composting.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2014, 04:37:41 PM »
I compost by wrapping my food scraps in newspaper (no shredding required).  It provides the perfect mix of greens and browns, and I've had no rodent problem in my open-crate compost bin in the back yard.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2014, 04:46:45 PM »
Newspaper, what's that?

(I do compost the junk newspaper ad mailer thingy every week, but that's not a whole lot of material.)

MayDay

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2014, 06:52:20 PM »
Newspaper, what's that?

(I do compost the junk newspaper ad mailer thingy every week, but that's not a whole lot of material.)

I have the same problem.  I grab a few extra free papers whenever I see them, and I ask a few friends who do get the daily paper to save them for me.  I also get brown paper grocery bags at the store when I am desperate and shred those. 

By shred I mean tear up small by hand.  Sometimes I set the kids to help me, either by hand or with their scissors, which is an exciting novelty for them.  Keeps them busy, develops fine motor skills. 

Indio

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2014, 08:32:38 PM »
I get that it's bad to have rats in your compost bin but they provide a valuable service turning over and scratching up the compost. I keep a bait trap nearby just so the rat population doesn't go crazy feeding on my veggie scraps.
For filling up the compost bin, I shred everything. I tear the plastic windows out of junk mail and shred the rest of the envelopes, everything but the shiny paper junk mail gets compsoted. The free weekly newspaper also gets shredded, along with paper towels, used tissues, vacuum gets emptied into it. I drop off 2 bins twice a week at Starbucks and they give me their leftover coffee grinds. To counteract the acidity of the grinds I add lime. When I add all of these browns, the animals aren't very attracted to the bin because it heats up very quickly and steam comes off of it daily. Every month I create about 4 cu ft of compost in Summer.

greaper007

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2014, 08:54:21 PM »
Pellet gun...

kite

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2014, 09:16:03 PM »
Exterminator.
Don't expect them to just move when you close off acess to their all you can eat buffet.  They'll find a way into most any house.
Hanta virus is no joke.  Don't be an idiot.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2014, 11:39:45 PM »
I remember my parents had a big rat problem one time. Galvanised steel bins are pretty good at keeping them out, but it made them desperate and one of them attacked my father when he was taking the rubbish out. If you know where they live, get a professional exterminator. The peace of mind will be worth the cost, especially as you have children.

Janie

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2014, 12:57:00 AM »
I'd use old fashioned snap traps in addition to controlling their food source.

Greg

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Chranstronaut

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2014, 10:26:54 AM »
Do your goblins produce a lot of paper from school projects and homework assignments?  Would one of the younger goblins enjoy the job of being the official "paper ripper/cutter" from these scrap papers?  I remember accumulating tons of spiral notebooks and homework papers every school year that didn't need to be saved.  Although depending on your kids, you will need to make sure they can tell the difference between papers that are "okay to rip" and "not okay to rip".

Could you convert your standing bins into DIY tumblers as a family project?  http://www.instructables.com/id/Compost-Tumbler/

Also +1 to rat control in addition to compost bin solutions.

TrMama

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2014, 11:12:08 AM »
Rats in the yard skeeve me out. There's no way I want them around my kids, in the house or damaging anything outside. If you have kids, it's only a matter of time until one of them leaves the door open and the rats invite themselves into your house.

We had this issue once when I got sloppy about letting cooked foods get into the compost. Our neighbours across the fence also had a bird feeder and a small pond/water feature. I also found rats in our BBQ. The rats probably thought we were running a resort for them. I actually stopped composting for about 6 months to let it break down completely. The neighbours got rid of the bird feeder. I got rid of the BBQ. I put rat poison in the composter and snap traps nearby.

We haven't had any more evidence of rats and I've gone back to composting. I'm much more careful about what foods go into the composter, I make sure to add more browns and turn the pile occasionally. We will likely never again have a BBQ.

Weeds that haven't yet gone to seed make great browns and break down quickly.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2014, 11:16:25 AM »
Do your goblins produce a lot of paper from school projects and homework assignments?  Would one of the younger goblins enjoy the job of being the official "paper ripper/cutter" from these scrap papers?  I remember accumulating tons of spiral notebooks and homework papers every school year that didn't need to be saved.  Although depending on your kids, you will need to make sure they can tell the difference between papers that are "okay to rip" and "not okay to rip".

Could you convert your standing bins into DIY tumblers as a family project?  http://www.instructables.com/id/Compost-Tumbler/

Also +1 to rat control in addition to compost bin solutions.

They go through a shit ton of paper. Is standard printer paper fine for composting? They color, but all nontoxic crayons, markers, etc.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2014, 11:21:39 AM »
They go through a shit ton of paper. Is standard printer paper fine for composting? They color, but all nontoxic crayons, markers, etc.

If it's safe for your kids to suck on, then it can be composted.

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2014, 11:49:48 AM »
What I want to know is if these are ROUS (rodents of unusual size)? I feel like that's a key piece of information here.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2014, 11:57:03 AM »
What I want to know is if these are ROUS (rodents of unusual size)? I feel like that's a key piece of information here.

Quite frankly, I don't think they exist.

oldtoyota

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2014, 12:35:03 PM »
I think our rats attracted the feral cats. Nature takes care of itself. At the same time, we temporarily stopped putting the tastier food scraps out there. We stuck to coffee grounds and lettuce leaves instead of fruit and veggie scraps.

Hoping the cats eat a certain squirrel.




Fi(re) on the Farm

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2014, 02:19:14 PM »
I've composted for almost 20 years and only had rats once. I'm pretty sure it was because I started putting egg shells in my bins (garbage cans like you use). Once I stopped adding egg shells the problem went away.

ampersand

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2014, 05:37:21 PM »
Sounds like you need to adopt a local cat.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Rats attacking my compost bin
« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2014, 05:41:42 PM »
Adding a good inch layer or so of shredded paper (lacking any other source of browns right now) for every day's worth of food scraps seems to have done the trick. Smell is noticeably down. I blocked the hole the rats had chewed with a cinder block, and unlike the first hole, they have yet to chew a new one for access.

It's also possible the neighborhood cats finally caught up to them...