Compost heaps and rats

My compost bins and heap have never had livestock but yesterday I saw something that was either a large mouse or a young rat. We soaked the compost in water and will buy rat bait, just in case, but I wondered if anyone else had experience of this. Any advice welcome. There are rats further down the road, I have heard, and if we get an infestation OH will insist on getting rid of the bins. Can't say I blame him, really!



  • LynLyn Posts: 8,047

    Sometimes, if you live in the country you cant avoid rats, compost bins or not, but, dont ever put cooked food in the bin, and keep it forked over regularly, they dont like disturbance. If you choose the rat killer way, we have found the only one that works is Neosorexa gold, they seem to be immune to all the others.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    Hi Grandma, last year our covered compost heap revealed a large rats nets with some of the  the contents of my compost darlek stored  nicely in the nest,i found they had dug under the darlek and i eventually placed it on breeze blocks and when i used the heap they vacated not to return ,there's plenty of other sources of food on the other allotments so preventing them getting to the kitchen waste they gave notice ,paid up and left and good riddance, hope this helps


  • Thanks, Lyn and Alan. My bins and heap are on slabs but of course rats gnaw and tunnel. I'll remember the name of the poison. My old Westie would have hunted and killed them but sadly, the bichons I have now won't do any more than bark hysterically. We're cautious about disturbing the compost at the moment, but, having given it a good soaking we think any livestock may have vacated the premises. We'll empty the bins, which are difficult to fork over effectively, and use the usable compost before starting again, I think. The worst thing about this is not feeling safe to leave the back door open in fine weather.

  • nikki 7nikki 7 Posts: 66

    I found that the compost heap on my allotment plot had rats in throughout the winter.  I think they possibly tunnelled in to keep warm in the decaying contents.  They didn't bother me - but good luck to you getting rid of them, as they are in your garden and close to the house.

  • Peat BPeat B Posts: 441

    Rats are only wanting to live undisturbed and without interference.  But there we go. We can't expect to have it all our own way everywhere we go, can we ? As Lyn says, fork it over regularly, and you should P155 them off enough to move on to a quieter neighbourhood !  I turn my bins over whenever I need something to do, and sometimes I find a nest of ratticles, but I dread the day when I find a nest of little pink babies ! I don't think I could squash them or belt them with a spade.  I just don't think I have it in me.  perhaps I could hire a goshawk, or a python, ot a rattlesnake to do my dirty work. a sort of 'Hit Squad' !

  • SuburbshrubSuburbshrub Posts: 43

    I found that I had rats in my compost heap too ( I even startled one that was hanging upside down down and eating peanuts from the birdfeeder). I forked it over, poured on water and put rat bait down and they went away. My neighbour tells me he has rats under his decking, so I dont think we will be free of them. Like Gardening Grandma, I don't like the thought of them sneaking in the back door,past the dog.

  • "They" say that you are never further away from a rat than about 5 feet (or some such frightening statistic!)

    We had rats in our compost.  We have 3 Daleks, and we realised the problem when I found bits of kitchen waste - potato peelings etc, - that had moved mysteriously from one bin to another.  We used bait to get rid of them, and when we took the Dalek off, the cone of compost had a virtual helter-skelter run round the outside from top to bottom.

    We turned the compost and rebuilt the heap - but this time on chicken wire, which makes it impossible for the pesky critturs to gnaw through.  So far, so good . . . .

  • Thanks for your responses, Nikki and PB. I don't mind one young rat in the garden, but I jolly well don't want it in the house and I don't want a whole nest of them. We once lived in a terraced house with mice coming down the terrace and I used to watch baby mice taking the poison, feeling like a murderer. However, there isn't really much choice. My OH's father had a smallholding and he and his sons used to take a torch and spade and chop off the heads of rats taking the chicken food, so OH is hardened to killing them.

    Our row of  terraced houses also had a problem with rats in the gardens, partly because one of the neighbours had a pet cockerel in the garden. He gave my OH an air pistol to help shoot the rat that was attracted by its food. OH joked that, instead of killiing the rat, he should kill the cockerel. Unfortunately, OH then missed the rat and did kill the cockerel! image

  • Whoops!  Bet that took some explaining, GG, hope your neighbour understood it was a genuine mistake, and didn't get too upset about the cockerel.  I can understand folks keeping chickens, but cockerels, I just don't get.  They don't produce anything but a bout of swearing when they set off at 4 a.m. to greet the sun.  Our parrot did a decent cock-crow, as someone at the back had bantams.  She also got me into trouble with the neighbour (wolf-whistling), and had me running back in on several occaisions to answer the phone.

    My only suggestion is you buy one of the darlac compost turners from Amazon, it's like a cross between a corkscrew and a the thing you use to raise and lower the corner steadies on a caravan.  You 'screw' it into the compost, then raise the entire thing, mixing the top stuff with the bottom stuff, and introducing air, much easier than trying to wield a garden fork in a dalek.  All you can do is make life difficult for them and hope they will go away.

    We are dealing with mice at the moment (apparently mice and rats are very territorial, and if you have mice you won't get rats and vice versa).  Trouble is OH is the biggest wuss going, so muggins here gets the choice job of picking up trap, opening door over open carrier bag, and disposing of the body.  Worst thing is if you stay up late and the green light on the trap is winking at you, getting rid of the flipping corpse is the last thing you want just before bed.  The farmer at the back just chucks anything and everything on his heap (I won't buy council compost, as he produces it, I've seen the rubbish that goes in there).  He's been fined by Environmental health before for chucking chicken carcasses on there.  We can't have barbecues in the summer, if the wind is in the wrong direction you can almost chew on the smell.  Choice!image

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619

    I've had a couple of problems with rats, each time I've called out the council and they've put down poison which dealt with it. I also stopped feeding the birds, except in winter. 

    Agree with MMP about regular turning of the compost bins, I've got one of those giant corkscrew thingys for thr Daleks, and it is very effective. I also kick the bins as I pass, and encourage visitors to do the same!


  • Outdoor girlOutdoor girl Posts: 286

    After watching rats climb the bird feeder and finding knawed food remains in the dalek, I moved all my compost bins around. They now rest on small gauge chicken wire which comes up the sides. That seems to have worked. OH shot the rats on the bird feeder with his shotgun...

  • The only trouble with shooting rats, is the MESS that it makes.  Don't mind killing pests as long as it's a clean kill.

  • Peat BPeat B Posts: 441

    As the troops are coming back gradually, from Afghanistan, there might be some surplus sniper rifles going on ebay ! Rat a twoey for Tea ?

  • PB, I like it! image Or sp-rats? Or how about ca-rat cake?


  • Ginny MayGinny May Posts: 17

    No rats in heap yet, though we have had them in the garden after the birdfeed, and also droppings in the shed and gnawed stored birdfeed sacks and bulbs. The council put down bait for us.  However, we have had toads in the compost heap, which whilst I like toads in general, did give me a bit of a turn when getting out some compost to use.

  • That's the trouble with wildlife friendly gardens - you don't get any choice about the wildlife that takes up residence. My MIL had very bad legs and could hardly walk, in later life, but she met a frog hopping about in the garden one day and got up quite a turn of speed as she ran to the house, with her kness almost touching her chin!

    No bait was taken from near the bins yesterday, so I'm hoping the problem is now resolved.

    MMP, I'll get one of those Darlak things. I hadn't heard of them before, so thanks.

  • sterelitzasterelitza Posts: 110
    I purchased a dalek compost bin via the Council, they take loads of garden waste which is great and it does die down quickly in them even though I have to push it down when its full. I have had one going for 2 years and when I go to pop some lawn clippings etc in there there is always a foot of space in the top and I can see grubs etc moving around doing their job. Don't know if there are any rats in there I have not seen any and it is at the bottom of the garden. How long should compost take before you can use it, this is my first attempt with making home made compost.
  • Peat BPeat B Posts: 441

    I have a 'Dalek' oop t'lotty, and it has become a very good tool for 'forcing' rhubarb ! As far as composting is concerned, I don't think there is such a thing as the perfik composter ! They seem to be only for the gardening experts on TV shows, with lots of spare time to do all the turning, mixing, piling in specific heaps and still have time to tell us how to produce the wonderful mixes they show us. \i am just a grumpy old cynic. Next year, I shall simply dig a trench and dump the kitchen stuff, + lawn trimmings, + old newspapers & etc, into the trench, and cover it up with the next trench.  





    is my motto

  • finally have spotted the rat in the compost bin , had high level of suspicion seeing as how the compost seemed to be turning itself!

    may call in the council to sort out, but good ideas in here.

  • archiepemarchiepem Posts: 1,156

    starve it  no fruit or cooked foods , ie bread fat etc . they will move on 

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