This post contains affiliate links. I may recommend products I have used and trust from Amazon and other companies. If you purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission. It is at NO additional cost to you. I appreciate your support!
Figuratively, rats are awfully adorable as long as they are in children’s books. You are probably doing a great job keeping them out of your house, but the compost bin is a different story.
The process within compost bins helps organic matter break naturally into elements that enrich the soil and encourage beneficial bacteria and fungi. This, in turn, produces an earthy smell that attracts rats and other rodents. One of the main ways to avoid having rat infestations is to refrain from putting food waste into your compost bins.
This piece discusses why rats are attracted to compost bins and some of the easiest ways to prevent these incessant rodents from tampering with them. Read further to learn more.
What Attracts Rats to a Compost Bin?
Though unsettling, compost bins tend to be a preferred option for rats and mice, especially during the cooler months of the year due to the shelter and warmth they offer. The persistent critters can chew through anything from wood to plastic to get to their food source, which makes commercial compost bins vulnerable to an infestation.
With their high breeding rates, a pair of rats can spawn nearly a thousand rats leading to a chronic rat problem in your home or garden.
A compost bin with a high percentage of table scraps is likely to experience a rodent problem. When the compost has a well-appropriated ratio of dried materials such as dried leaves, sticks, and straw, it will draw rats, especially if it isn’t regularly turned.
Rats can easily hollow out a nesting area in areas with an undisturbed pile that has a lot of nesting material.
How to Keep Rats Away from Your Compost Pile
Rats are typically in search of two basic things, shelter and food. The presence of both in a compost pile creates a rat problem. There are simple ways to prevent rats from getting into your compost pile or getting them to leave if they are already there.
Don’t compost any food waste
If rats are a big problem for you, you can opt to forego adding more food waste into your compost pile. Rather than letting these valuable scarps go to waste, set up an indoor vermicomposting bin just for your food waste. Another option is to bury this waste directly in a compost trench in the garden.
In the video below, I show you some practical ways to prevent rats in your compost bin. I use 5 large bays and have never had rats because I implement the tips within the video.
If you are worried about rats in your compost bin, then you should check it out, along with reading the rest of this article.
Use the Bokashi method to prevent rats from going to your compost
Bokashi is a great way to deal with your kitchen waste. The smell of fermented kitchen waste will keep even the hungriest rats away from Bokashi’s fermented food waste.
Bokashi is an anaerobic process that uses inoculated bran to ferment kitchen waste.
The fermenting process was first discovered in Japan in 1982 by a university professor. It is inexpensive and takes only about two weeks. Put food waste in a Bokashi bucket, Layer it with bran and let it rest for two weeks. Add these contents to your compost pile, and the smell will automatically repel rats.
My Book Composting Masterclass Is Available Now!
So many people struggle to make compost, either it takes an eternity to break down, or it becomes a smelly mess. I wrote this book so that you can learn what happens in your compost pile at the microscopic level, as well as the fundamentals. Knowing this will allow you to understand at what stage your compost is and allow you to problem solve and find solutions when making compost. Check out what others say about the book!
The most comprehensive book on composting I have ever read!
I thought I knew a thing or two about composting organic materials to use back in my garden as “black gold” but Tony’s breaking down (pun intended) of composting principles and methods has given me a better understanding of the whole process.
If you want to know everything there is about composting and becoming a Compost Master – read this book!
Mark Valencia (Self Sufficient Me)
Turn your compost regularly to put rats off staying
Good compost needs to be regularly turned. The more often you choose to turn it, the more likely you are to discourage rodents from making the compos pit their home.
Constant movement scares them and will keep them at bay.
Rats don’t like the smell of mint. plant this near the compost bin
This method is used to repel rats that work for many people just as it fails for others. The idea is worth a try. Rats and mice are reputed to be repugnant to the mint scent.
Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.Wendell Berry
If you plant a good number of mint plants near your compost pile, it may be sufficient to deter the rodents. If the population of rodents within your compost is high, you may need to couple the planting of mint plants with another deterrent to fully deter the rats.
Keeping the compost moist creates a environment thats puts off rats
One of the things rats look for when invading a compost pile is shelter. A dried-out compost pile not only offers rats a haven but is also easy to access. It is also inefficient in breaking down organic material into useful matter.
When dry, a compost pile provides warmth and insulated space for rats to inhabit and have access to tasty morsels, and that is why it is important to keep your compost moist but not wet.
This will deter rats from trying to nestle in it due to the unpleasant odors and anaerobic conditions. Remember to regularly turn and add water to the pile, especially during the drier seasons, to ensure it is inhospitable to rodents.
Enclosing the compost bin prevents air circulation this makes rats choose other locations.
Use a tarp or lid to cover your compost. Even though the rats somehow get in, there will be less air circulation that will discourage them from staying. You can also switch from open slatted bins for composting to solid-sided compost bins.
Raise the compost bin off the ground so as not to attract rats
Set up your compost pile raised off the ground to discourage burrowers from accessing it. In effect, raising the bin denies rodents access to the supposed shelter they are looking for and will move on to more accessible areas around.
Deny the rodents security in the compost pit to keep them away
Rats and other rodents often feel safe near fixed walls and fences. Keep your compost bin free, standing away from walls or fences that offer them good hiding spots and security.
Another way to ensure rats do not find a haven in your compost is by ensuring there isn’t dense vegetation around it, as it normally is a habitat for rats. Cut down any tall grass and wildflowers near the compost pile to discourage rodent habitation.
Reduce ways to access the compost bin for rats to deter them.
Did you know that rats only need a tiny space to gain access? Find and seal any possible spaces and holes in your garage and compost bin to keep rodents out. Use a mesh that is at least half an inch by half an inch thick to cover the bottom and sides of the bin and some connecting cables to secure it.
By breaking up the ingredients in the compost you deny the rats using it as food
Rats are attracted to the smell of decomposing food waste. Some great ways to deny them access to food would be by:
|Avoid adding oils and meats to your compost||Bury fresh food deep into the compost and cover with finished compost|
|Store your garbage and feedstock properly. Do not leave pet food and birdseed out at night.||Encourage rat predators such as hawks and owls to your property.|
|Ensure you keep out any eggshells from your compost. They are among a rodent’s favorite food.||If you have trees with fruits or nuts or a vegetable garden, pick them immediately when they are ripe. Do not leave fallen vegetables and fruits lying on the ground.|
For the eggshell tip, if you intend on using the eggshells to deter slugs in the garden, it is best to wash them first to get rid of egg residue before placing them in the garden.
Introducing noise and disturbance will keep rats at bay from the compost bin
Rats tend to be secretive pests and tend to linger at the edges of things and find their way in places with little to no disturbance.
Put the bin where you often pass and always give it a good whack on the side with a stick to discourage them from taking up residence in the compost.
Look into Traffic obstruction to keep rats at bay from the compost bin
Once rats have set up, they prefer to use the same path to get around as they are creatures of habit. Look for rat paths, burrows, top offenses, flower gardens, and install bird repellent spikes. Even though it may not stop them, it will make them nervous and slow them down.
Move potted plants around occasionally, and it will help remove long-term rat nesting habitat.
Being neophobic creatures, rats find new things and change off-putting and relocate to places where they can stick to a designated pathway.
Rats need a water supply so cap the one nearest the compost bin.
To breed, rats need a regular water supply. Often gardens offer a replenished water source that allows rats to infest your property and eventually find their way to your compost pile.
Fix leaking taps and any unintended water source that could be offering a convenient drinking source to rodents.
Consider a concrete or sand base for your compost bin
Typically, garden sheds sit on wooden joists that minimize ground dampness. Joints in these wooden joists often have gaps that are ideal for rats to live in.
When choosing a place for your compost pile, opt for a concrete or sand base as it prevents rats from burrowing up through the voids or ground. A sand or concrete base also makes it easier to detect any rat activity.
Conclusion on do compost bins attract rats
Rats are opportunistic scavengers that are necessary for the planet’s ecosystem but not your compost bin. They are detrimental to composting and tend to be a nuisance, especially when they increase in number.
With all these warnings, you might be thinking, what else is left for me to compost while also keeping rats at bay?
You can look into composting organic materials like lawn clippings, sawdust, leaves, straw, newspapers, and many more covered in this article that I wrote on composting for beginners. This will surely aid you on how to keep rats at bay while also doing compost for your garden. Feel free to check it here.
If you liked this article, be sure to subscribe in the form below to be notified about future content and releases!