alanp1ck
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Large holes across surface in compost bin - Something in it?

I built a composter in timber of about a cubic metre about 3 years ago. Recently I have noticed large holes and runs across the surface when I open the lid.
I suspect it may be a rat. Any advice on getting it to move out. I don't want to poison it or kill it, just to get it to leave. Any advice would appreciated.

DaddyChad
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Re: There's something in my compost bin

alanp1ck wrote:I built a composter in timber of about a cubic metre about 3 years ago. Recently I have noticed large holes and runs across the surface when I open the lid.
I suspect it may be a rat. Any advice on getting it to move out. I don't want to poison it or kill it, just to get it to leave. Any advice would appreciated.
If it's a rat, I'd want to take care of it. I would get a cat; they're mother nature's solution for alot of rodents and pests. Plus it wouldnt be like you were killing it; it's the circle of life.

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Kisal
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The only way I was able to keep the mice/rats out of my bin was to keep it well stirred. Even when the pile was hot, they would just nest in it around the edges. :roll: Stubborn! :lol:

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applestar
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I suppose the first thing to do would be to stop putting any kitchen scraps or stable manure (if you use any) in it until whatever it is is evicted, just sticking to leaves and grass clippings. Doing a complete turnover (taking everything out and re-building the pile) then turning it more frequently and disturbing it a lot would probably help to convince it to seek a more secure hiding place.

Once it's OUT, is it possible to wrap the outside of the bin with hardware cloth? If you DO take everything out for a complete turnover, that might be an opportunity to line the bottom as well....

A little severe, but I think sprinkling ground cayenne peppers in the bin might help evict it too....

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smokensqueal
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I also had a rat problem and no matter what I did I couldn't get rid of them with just turning and not putting in kitchen scarps. I think they liked it for the warmth and cover. I ended up just getting one of those old fashion snap traps and put on a little peanut butter and SNAP they were gone after I caught 3 of them. Now I have a separate closed barrel that I put my food scraps in just so I don't attract them and maybe they won't come by. I started noticing them last winter so we will see if they come back this winter.

MagnoliaMan
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Turning and sturrng is the best way to keep the mice and other creatures out. I have three open sided bins and see burrowing and holes on the sides constantly. If you have a "closed" composting system, try throwing a contained bag of mothballs on the top, removing it before you turn it and then replacing it when you put the lid on. Seems to work to eliminate other creatures.

DaddyChad
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I read somewhere the other day that cedar oil works. Have no idea whether it works or not but if your heart is set on an organic solution involving sparing the diease harboring little varmits then this might bear some research if none of the other recommendations work out for you.

8Mud
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I use a live trap on top of my kitchen scrap compost (in a hot box). Peanut butter and fat are two good baits. No matter how well I try to seal my composter they seem to find a way in. They seem to avoid the old snap type traps, I suspect some sort of learning curve. The live traps still seem to work well.
My terriers seem to keep the garden largely rodent free, but I still have occasional guests.

cynthia_h
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Yes, terriers--of almost every breed--were originally developed and bred as vermin catchers. Various breeds were trained to focus on rats, mice, and so on. (Side note: the Dachshund was bred to go after the "Dachs"--the badger.)

Congratulations on being able to keep your terriers "employed." :)

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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