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Could my compost bin attract rats?

This is a question that i'm asked often, and is used as an excuse for people not to set up a compost bin, - so here is my take on the subject

Rats want somewhere warm and dry to shelter, and they want to find food.  A compost bin may be warm but it shouldn't be dry enough for a rat, and the food that attracts rats i.e cooked or processed food, meat, fish or dairy products shouldn't be added unless they have been pickled in a bokashi bin first. so my top tips for composting to avoid making a comfortable home for rats are

1) Make sure that there are no sources of food in the garden that can attract rats -

leftover food on a birdtable, bird food bags left open in a shed, vegetables hung up to dry ( the Goods had the right idea using the spare bedroom in The Good Life), rubbish bags containing food scraps left outside

2) Be an active composter, - if you are disturbing their hiding place every day and walking past on your way to other parts of the garden, your compost bin will become an uncomfortable place to hide

3) Don't put your bin in a far away part of the garden, so that you can add things every day or so, and make sure there is space round it - no overgrown folilage for rodents to hide in

4) Rats like a dry environment, - a pile of leaves is perfect for them, a well balanced mix of vegetable peelings, grass clippings, shreddings, shredded newspaper and cardboard will give you a heap with the consistency of a wrung out sponge, and you can always water your compost heap if it is too dry

5) make sure the rats can't be tempted by using a closed heap, - a lid and a base, or a layer of plaster mesh underneath it.


It is always a good idea to wear gloves when handling compost, and if you do see any signs of Rats having been in your compost, - all is not lost as the compost can be used on the garden as worms will have helped the degradation process, or you can always put material back in the bin for a couple more months.

It is also worth knowing that Garden Organic have not had an increase in questions about vermin in compost over the last couple of years even though there has been a large increase in the numbers of people composting



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india jameson

Great post. If I've had rats nesting in the compost bin for the past year (which I have) can I use the compost safely on edible crops - is their wee and poo ok to consume, in other words! Do they carry diseases?

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