Your compost heap is usually filled with the remains of dinner, bad food, and garden debris, and those just happen to be all the things that rats love to eat. Throw in a few insects to help break everything down and you’ve basically got yourself a five-star restaurant for the average rodent passerby. It’s no wonder they move in and stick around!
You can prevent them from sticking around, however, with these 6 genius ways to keep rats out of your compost heap:
If you have more of a compost heap than a compost bin, buy a bin. When the rats can’t easily access the food, they might turn around and opt for food that is easier to access. Don’t underestimate the work they will put in to get to what they want, though.
Putting a physical barrier between the food and the rats, such as an actual compost bin, is the first start to kicking them out.
Rats seem to have a particular fondness for the peelings of potatoes, but they’ll go after any kind of food if they have the chance. Although your general garden waste is probably okay in a non-enclosed compost pile, the food waste — things like leftover dinner and potato peelings — should go in a fully sealed container with a lid. The lid must have a way to secure it to the rest of the bin, and plastics are easily chewed through so are probably best avoided.
If your compost bin or pile doesn’t have a rat-proof base to it, you can create one using wire mesh. In fact, you can use wire mesh to add an extra layer of protection around most things in your garden to keep them safe from rats and other interlopers.
When buying wire mesh, make sure that the holes between the wire are no bigger than about half an inch. If they are bigger than that, the rats will slide through with ease and your hard work will have been for nothing.
If you have a bit where the lid and the walls don’t meet, for example, the rats will sense that there is a channel of air and will try to get in there. They have very sharp teeth and expert chewing skills, so adding extra reinforcements, such as metal flashing, to the chewed edges will help to deter them.
We know that having a compost heap in the middle of your garden isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing option, nor is it the nicest-smelling one, particularly on a hot summer's day, but moving the compost heap so that it is in the open, rather than closed in and surrounding by trees or shrubbery in a corner, will prevent all sorts of critters from getting to it.
Wild animals don’t like wide, open spaces. It usually means danger, especially for rats. They have plenty of predators and many of them come from the air.
If you know that rats deliberately and viciously attack your compost heap after your put a certain food in there, such as cooked meat, stop putting that item in there. It’s not the best option long-term, but if there is one particular food source that you have noticed lures them in more than others, start being smart about what you put in the heap.
Rats don’t like a lot of noise anymore than they like wide, open ground. It usually signifies danger to them, so by making a blooming great racket every time you go past it, you might get them out. At the very least you’ll get some pent up frustration out by letting rip with your best shouting voice. (Just make sure the neighbors know what you’re up to.)
You don’t need to be quite this drastic, of course. You could just bash the sides of the heap with a stick — anything to make a little bit of noise and disturbance.