Rats in UK compost pile

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Rats in UK compost pile
Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 1:00 am
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The problem with rats is that the compost bin isn't the only place they might live. They are very inquisitive and they explore quite a territory. That's why they are efficient carriers for disease.
Remember Black Death?

Author: Nancybeetoo (Nancybeetoo)
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 12:30 pm
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Perhaps you could try a contained system like http://www.omick.net/composting_toilets/bucket_barrel_toilet.htm

When the barrel is full and has worked for a few months- then add it to the pallet compost bin. There might still be rats in the compost bin but it doesn't matter if no human pathogens are left in the material from the barrel.

Author: Joncro55 (Joncro55)
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 11:21 am
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Wire Mesh and Hardware Cloth are the best bet to use here. Maybe even consider using 2 seperate layers underneath one another. If the rats see something like a 4 x 4 mesh - seen here: http://www.bwire.com/ and then maybe like a 20 x 20 wire mesh underneath it, you will have double the protection. As far as rusting, consider using stainless steel, this material will be much mroe durable and will not rust or be chewed through.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 7:52 pm
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Its not good to have flies and rats around the pile - they can potentially spread disease and be a menace, especially in a city environment.

1) You can try Demeter's suggestion and see what happens. Based on my experience, I think he is on the right track.

2) Sounds like rat traps, may not work in your situation - but if you can put inverted flower pots over baited rat traps (drill say a 2 inch hole on the rim of the pot for their entrance), you may be able to catch a few. Wear rubber gloves when touching the traps to avoid human scenting the traps. Bait - cheese, peanut butter, nuts, carrot, meat ... try a variety and see what works.

3) A compost bin made of hardware cloth (wire mesh say a quarter inch by quarter inch holes), can usually stop them. Tops, bottoms and sides must be in mesh. Its alot of work and expense. Even so, some very persistant rats have been known to chew thru even hardware cloth !. Besides, the mesh will eventually rust enough (my guess is three -four years) and then they have a good chance to get in again.

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 4:56 pm
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Rats are very clever animals with an acute sense of smell. They are probably after the kitchen scraps, not the humanure. I would suggest processing the kitchen scraps in an indoor facility, such as a worm tower, before adding the worm castings to the outdoor pile.

Author: Beelci (Beelci)
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 1:23 pm
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I have created a compost bin with wooden pallets and placed it in an allotment in London (UK) where I live. I started the pile as indicated in the Humanure web page with the only difference being that I started it in winter and that I have also added organic kitchen waste to the pile as well as humanure from the beginning. After just over two weeks from start, when I returned to the allotment with some more buckets of humanure and kitchen waste, I found that the pile had been raided by what appeared to be rats. I then removed all the content and buried it in the allotment and started again a new pile, but this time I used wire mesh on the pallets and on the ground to prevent rats from accessing the pile. However, and after another couple of weeks, the pile was raided again, and they even removed part of the cover material on the top (from under the wire mesh that I also had on top to protect it). Because we had some days of warm weather, I even had several flies already around the compost bin!. This time I could not see from where the rodents had access to the pile so that I added more cover material (dried tree leaves). I have three more buckets of humanure to empty, and I am a bit concern to go back to the allotment and finding more evidence of rats. The main issue is that the allotment site has got many tenants, and if by chance one of them complains about the issue to the local authority, I could then be expelled from the site. I will continue with my 'experiment' for the time being, but if this is going to attract 'pests' and cause nuisance to the others I'll have to stop: it would be impossible to argue with my local authority's environmental health officers just by saying that rats are here to stay, or that they are not harmfull, etc.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Friday, December 11, 2009 - 9:23 pm
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One way of looking at this is to say "Rat's are here to stay. They are part of the scene. If they are in the compost heap, is that such a bad thing?"
I know it can give one the creeps to see them around, but as long as they are not getting at your food, and your power cables, and that piano you have in store, or your best lounge suite..... Can you live with them? Rats have been some of the most successful animals in the world, for a very long time. Our human intellect should be able to devise ways of protecting what is value to us, and leave the rats to live their lives.
Wishful thinking on my part? Maybe!

Author: Demeter (Demeter)
Friday, December 11, 2009 - 11:15 am
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If you can keep a rat terrier, you won't have rats.

Author: Colditz (Colditz)
Friday, December 11, 2009 - 9:39 am
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does anyone have experience of this working? I've seen rats get into a metal tank with a mesh lid.

Author: Joe (Joe)
Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 4:33 pm
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You may need to wrap your compost bin in 1" chicken wire (poultry netting) and put a wire lid on it.

Author: Colditz (Colditz)
Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 10:31 am
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I'm struggling to maintain a hot heap in the british winter - too cold to heat up but not cold enough to freeze solid.
As a result i'm getting a nice, slightly warm, rodent friendly pile.
We have rats on site, and i'm yet to see a rat proof compost system. Any ideas/advice would be appreciated.

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