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Composting and rats?!

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I'm trying to persuade my mum (who lives in a medium sized house with a garden) to compost kitchen waste so that she can reuse it and so that we can take ours around there (we live in a one bedroomed flat with no garden so don't think we can compost??). I'm quite keen on either a composter or a wormery.

The big sticking point is that she is adamant that if we compost kitchen waste, rats will come from far and wide. She is absolutely petrified of them, so won't do it.

Is she right about this? If so are there any solutions? We really do want to recycle but in reality I know that if the rat issue is a real one it's simply not feasible.
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  • Shrimp_Stu
    Shrimp_Stu Posts: 155 Forumite
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    Make sure that you only compost certain kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings, raw egg shells.
    Avoid cooked/raw meats/fish; bones; anything that you believe will attract rats.
  • ariba10
    ariba10 Posts: 5,432 Forumite
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    Only compost uncooked vegetable matter.
    I used to be indecisive but now I am not sure.
  • brindles01
    brindles01 Posts: 1,003 Forumite
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    I discovered about 2 months ago that my plastic compost bin has become 'Rats Towers.' I only ever put vegetable/green waste in it but I could see defintate burrows/holes coming up to the top of the pile. It is totally enclosed so I can only imagine they have chewed through the base to get in. I chucked a sprinkle of rat poison on the top about 6 weeks ago and have not used it since (I now take all my kitchen waste to the lottie). We are just getting the enthusiasm up to empty it out and take it to the lottie as well. I must say I live in a semi rural position and the bin is situated near a hedge which has a drainage ditch running alongside it, so rats might well be thriving in this ditch and could not resist the contents of the bin!
    DTD - Doing Tesco Daily - while I still have vouchers!
  • WestonDave
    WestonDave Posts: 5,154 Forumite
    Rampant Recycler
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    Current compost bins are open at the bottom to allow worms in, but that also allows rats in by burrowing. If you are worried that this will happen you can get sheets of metal mesh (fairly small holes required) from B&Q etc. If you site the bins on that allowing a fair overhang outside the bins the rats won't be able to tunnel in. The rats can probably chew through the plastic to get in so maybe some chicken mesh around the lower sides might help with that, but they are unlikely to chew through metal mesh and will quickly move on to easier targets.

    Obviously avoiding meat etc as advised earlier will reduce the attractiveness anyway.
    Adventure before Dementia!
  • Running_man
    Running_man Posts: 138 Forumite
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    Could try a tumbler compost maker _this keeps all waste contained off the ground so no rat problem
    Remember only people who say money doesn't matter have already got enough :think:
  • stilernin
    stilernin Posts: 1,217 Forumite
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    I did have mice nesting in the top of a compost bin a few years ago. It might have been 'cos the contents had got too dry and the top 'uncomposted' material made a snug home for them.

    Watering the contents occasionally might discourage furry visitors and will assist the composting process too.
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,830 Forumite
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    kittycat07 wrote: »

    The big sticking point is that she is adamant that if we compost kitchen waste, rats will come from far and wide. She is absolutely petrified of them, so won't do it.

    The chicken wire option will work as long as you avoid cooked food. Otherwise, more expensive option it something like the Greencone. This is partly buried in the ground and is a digester rather than composter. You can add animal poo and cooked waste. It copes with a household of 4-5 people and needs moving every few years. A friend has one is a difficult part of town and has no problems, not even in heat waves.

    The cheapest option is Human Liquid Activator (HLA) as it is politely called. easier for the men in the houseold as they can add to direct (in the dark anyway). No self respecting rodent will tolerate a pee-sodden bed. I also suspect that they can smell the pheramones (SP) and the male ones are more of a put off.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • Debt_Free_Chick
    Debt_Free_Chick Posts: 13,276 Forumite
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    A compost bin will always be attractive to rats as if it were a four-star hotel! It provides warmth & shelter - an ideal place for a nest. If there's food (e.g. bird feeder) and water close by, the risk of rats nesting in the bin is even higher. I've had them in my compost bin :eek:

    You can try to deter them but, to be honest, they can chew through most things - plastic, wood & chicken wire :eek:

    RAS's suggestion re the HLA is your best bet. The pheramones in human urine will deter most wildlife.

    I have to say that I've only had one instance of rats nesting in my compost bin in the last 5 years, so whilst there's a risk, it certainly isn't common (based on my experience, only).
    Warning ..... I'm a peri-menopausal axe-wielding maniac ;)
  • angelavdavis
    angelavdavis Posts: 4,714 Forumite
    Mortgage-free Glee!
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    brindles01 wrote: »
    I discovered about 2 months ago that my plastic compost bin has become 'Rats Towers.' I only ever put vegetable/green waste in it but I could see defintate burrows/holes coming up to the top of the pile. It is totally enclosed so I can only imagine they have chewed through the base to get in. I chucked a sprinkle of rat poison on the top about 6 weeks ago and have not used it since (I now take all my kitchen waste to the lottie). We are just getting the enthusiasm up to empty it out and take it to the lottie as well. I must say I live in a semi rural position and the bin is situated near a hedge which has a drainage ditch running alongside it, so rats might well be thriving in this ditch and could not resist the contents of the bin!

    My experience is that it is only mice that tend to live in my compost bins (during the winter). Even in London I never had any problems with rats.
    :D Thanks to MSE, I am mortgage free!:D
  • gasbill
    gasbill Posts: 43 Forumite
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    Once, years ago, I was doing a bit of garedning for an elderly friend of my Mother's, and she (elderly friend, that is) found a mouse nest in her compost heap - tiny little blind baby mice. She went all panicky and said I had to kill them - wasn't sure if I was up to it, but she was most insistent, so I dispatched them as quickly as I could. She then turned on me and said how could I have done that? Obviously I was quite cross at this point, as she had more or less forced me into doing it. Competely no point at all to this, but reading this thread reminded me of the horror and bewilderment I felt at the time, and felt that I may be able to somehow come to terms with it, by re-living the experience.
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