rats in the compost bin!


8 Years
Apr 4, 2011
Near Seattle
About a month after I started putting the wood shavings and baby chicken poop in the compost bin, I've suspected rats - or some animal - was pulling some of the wood shavings out of the compost bin and spreading it around on the ground. At first I thought maybe my son had "missed" when dumping some in one time, but he said he didn't... and then I opened it up one day and there was a rat right on top looking at me! It burrowed down and went out the bottom. So I soaked the whole barrel full with water and turned it up good... and then the next day I went down to throw some stuff in and another bigger rat! We then put a rat box with bait down there with the compost bins.

What the heck? In my bin is only safe stuff - coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peels, other veggie peelings - no cooked foods or fats or meats. And now the chicken litter. Rats shouldn't like any of that stuff, unless they are sleeping in all that bedding???

I wanted to move one of my compost bins up next to the coop to make cleaning and dumping easier - otherwise I have to lug everything all the way to the other side of our property... but I don't want to invite the rats closer to my house.

Look on youtube - there is a rat / mouse trap consisting of a barrel (partially full of water) with a wire across the top and a bait holder in the middle. Ramps go up each side where the wire fastens. rat / mouse tries for the bait and falls into the barrel and drowns. No poison or threat to non predators and effective with good bait!
Undoubtedly they are rummaging through the stuff out of the coop for spilled feed. There can be quite a lot of it - my horses used to rummage through the compost anytime I dumped shavings from the pens and finally had to make sure they could not access it since they were eating shavings and all:( Rats will scavenge on nearly anything, but the poison should take care of the problem. Once they find a place inhospitable, they move on for a while and you won't have a problem until next time one happens by and sees an opportunity.
WOW marinmama- great job- good looking compost bins! Yes, bluebetween the rats will come for almost ANYTHING - they are incredible scavengers- plus the compost pile is a nice, warm place with plenty of bedding for nests, hiding, etc. I had the same problem and ended up using large 55 gallon brute trash cans with lids- I drilled holes throughout the entire can including the bottom for drainage and air. I use a trenching shovel to turn it, and still use the three bin system when one is finished- it gets put through a seive then the others get moved into the next bin so they get turned over completely. The other advantage to composting this way besides keeping out vermin is it finishes really fast. The dark plastic really heats the bin up and gets it humming along.
Oh... and I prefer setting traps to poison- then you know you've got them - it's an instant death, and there is no worry about something else getting the poison, (although with a really bad infestation I understand some people need to use poison).
Good luck!
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MarinMama, that looks great! I'm glad it's working for you, I'm still not done with the coop and not ready to build yet another project! But I'm bookmarking that -thanks

I have those big black plastic compost bins with no bottom, but a little door at the side to get the finished stuff out of and vents and a cover. I think maybe I have to do two things - find a way to limit the amount of feed that is spilling, and figure out how to keep the rats out of the bins... perhaps put them on concrete? Maybe even sandwich some hardwire between them and the concrete? I don't think they can fit through the vent holes, but maybe they can, a big trash can with nail holes might be in my future if the concrete and wire don't work. Thanks for helping out. We had them in the house when we first bought it - took 3K to get rid of them... so I'm very paranoid. I may also need an outdoor cat if all else fails
thanks...i wish i could take credit for the compost but my husband did it...he is pretty handy
Hi Marin!
I just checked out your compost bin and chick brooder on your blog. What a great idea for a brooder: Re-purposing a watermelon box! We will have to do that next time. Our chicks are in our spare bathroom.

I read about your fruit trees too. I have an "accidental" mango tree at home that I'm quite proud of. Inside one of the mangoes that we purchased about two years ago there was a sprouted pit! I put it in some water and after it developed a few leaves I planted it. Amazingly, as I have a decidedly BROWN thumb, my little tree is doing pretty well. I love how the leaves are soft and dark purple when they first start coming out and then turn green and harden as they mature. I'll have to figure out how to post a picture of it later. I doubt that we will ever get any fruit out of it, it will probably have to stay potted its entire life, but it is so neat to think I have a mango tree here in Kentucky!
you never know about getting a mango from it...everyone told me it was impossible to get a ripe mango where I am but we got one last year. the watermelon box works great and is not only big but sturdy when my kids are leaning on it trying to get a chick. thanks for visiting my blog and good luck with your mango!

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