Dealing With Rats in the Compost (warning – images of living and dead rats/animals)

I’ve been delaying making this video for
some time even though I get a lot of requests for it. And the main reason is that I think a lot
of people aren’t going to like it. There’s a lot of people out there who hate
rats, who think they are vile and disgusting creatures, and will be disturbed that I even
tolerate their presence. Other people love rats and think they’re wonderful
creatures, and will be disturbed that I see them as a pest. And still others might be disappointed that
at no point during this video do I show the actual killing of a rat. But this is the nature of the diverse range
of opinions that we have about this creature that has adapted so well to live among us. Personally, I quite like rats, I think they’re
intelligent, sociable creatures, and they make very good pets, and at the same time,
in the context I’m in, I actively cull their numbers. Or, in other words, I kill them. Rats have a very bad reputation, especially
in the cities, and for good reason, but I think the countryside is a little bit different. Most people are concerned about Leptospirosis,
or Weil’s Disease, so I decided to do my own research on it. According to the official statistics, there
are generally fewer than 20 cases reported each year in Ireland, many of which require
hospitalisation, but very rarely are there any deaths. It seems that most people were infected either
engaging in water sports, or with farmers working directly with animals, or with people
who are working in and around water, or people who travel to the tropics. This is a water born disease, and any water
that could have had rat urine washed into it is potentially contaminated. Apparently the highest risk comes from when
water is contaminated, comes in contact with open cuts and abrasions in the skin. So, its relatively easy to avoid by staying
away from water, or by covering any cuts and abrasions with waterproof plasters, and by
washing your hands. Because of all of this, I consider it to be
a low risk, even if rats are around, and it can be reduced even lower by common sense
practices. But I do recommend that people do their own
research on it. I think we need to be careful about how we
seek to manage rat populations in our gardens. Rats are pervasive in this country, and I
don’t think you can do anything to eliminate them, without doing serious damage to other
biodiversity. As one example, any habitat that might be
suitable for hedgehogs or other useful creatures in your gardens, would also be suitable for
rats. Poisons are seriously problematic, especially
as they can kill off any bird of prey that eats a poisoned rat. Traps can be effective, and I’ve used a
number of them over the years, but I’ve also found that they can kill animals that
I don’t want to kill, and it seems that rats are intelligent enough to learn how to
avoid them over time. I occasionally find cats hanging around my
gardens, and no doubt other predators that I’m not aware of pass by. A few years ago, i used to see a buzzard,
which is a type of bird of prey here in Ireland, hanging out on my compost pile, obviously
waiting for a tasty snack to appear. But I haven’t seen it again since I got
a lot better at controlling the rat population. I learned a valuable lesson about the relationship
between predators and prey, which I think is similar to the relationship between aphids
and ladybirds or ladybugs. It seems that we tend to not to be tolerant
enough of a background population of pests, in order to sustain the predators that we
want to help out in managing them. in this case it seems that the number of rats
that are needed to sustain a buzzard, is too many for most people. It was then that I realised that I needed
to take on the role of being a predator of rats. There’s this pervasive idea that you should
never add certain types of food to a compost pile, for fear of attracting rats. But, in my experience, rats are attracted
to compost piles in general, because there is probably always something to eat in them, and they seem to make ideal places to build nests in. It seems that rats are always going to be
attracted to an allotment or a garden, there tends to be a diverse range of habitats for
them to live in, and there’s always something to eat, either in the compost or growing in
the garden. I’ve seen many examples of rats eating things
directly from the gardens, including digging up pea seeds that were freshly sown. I’ve had the tops of carrots gnawed at,
I’ve had beetroot being chewed, I’ve had squash hollowed out so that the rats could
get at the seeds inside, and a neighbour had an entire crop of sweet corn stripped by rats. I’ve sat and watched a rat come into my
gardens, climb up a pea plant, pick a full pod of peas off of a plant, and drag it back
into the nest, only to come back a few minutes later and do the same thing. I’ve also seen them do it with broad beans
or lava beans. While rats may be more attracted to certain
types of material put into a compost, eliminating these items is not going to eliminate rats
from your garden. And, I’ve come to realise that if rats are
attracted to your compost, they can actually be easier to control. For the last few years, I’ve been managing
a community composting facility as part of this RED Gardens Project. For me, it enables me to capture a lot of
valuable fertility for use within the gardens, and for my neighbours it means that they don’t
have to have their own composting facility in order to manage their food wastes and yard
wastes. But, by being located away from the houses,
it also means that any problems that do arise, including issues with rats, are much easier
to manage. I’ve learned a lot from managing this composting
system, including developing several strategies for dealing with rats. Most of them are based on the fact that seem
to prefer building their nests within the compost itself, seemingly because it’s safe
and warm, and full of food. I used to borrow my neighbour’s dog whenever
I felt that rats were in the compost, and together we made a fairly effective team. As I dug the compost to turn it, he would
quickly and efficiently kill any of the rats that ran out. Unfortunately he’s now too old for the task,
so I’ve taken on both jobs, though I’m not nearly as skilled as he was. This was when I realised that there was real
benefits to having an enclosed box for a compost bin, but still enabling rats to burrow in
and make nests inside. Whenever it was time to turn the compost from
one bin into the next, I would seal up any of the holes, effectively trapping any of
the rats inside, and because they were trapped in there, they were much easier to kill. It was a vicious process, and I didn’t like
it, but I became quite skilled at it. As more people started tot use this community
composting facility, I ended up having to turn it more frequently, and more often than not I was finding nests that still had baby rats in them. And I realised that it was a much easier and
more effective strategy for culling the rat numbers was to kill them when they were still
babies, than to try to find them and kill them when they were adults. I found that turning the compost heaps once
a month gave enough time for the rats to become established, but wasn’t long enough for
the baby rats to mature and be able to leave the nest. And I found that this was quote an effective
strategy for controlling the rat population, especially during the autumn, winter and spring,
when the extra warmth of the compost heaps was an added attraction for the rats. In the summer time the rats were more likely
to nest in the broader landscape, but continue to use my gardens and the compost pile as a source of food, so I had to develop a different strategy. the method that worked quite well, was when
I surrounded all of the compost piles with a makeshift fence, and left a short section
of pipe at the base of the fence, so that the rats could come in and out as they pleased.. And I was able to determine when there was
a lot of rats visiting by the path that they wore up to the entrance to this pipe. And then, any time I was in the area, I would
make sure the fence was secure, and fix a bag over the end of the pipe. I would then lift all the coverings in the
composts and poke around until any rats that were there were scared off, and more often
than not, they ran straight through there pipe and were trapped in the bag, and were
very easy to kill. This ended up being very effective, and a
lot easier than trying to find and dig out all of the nests that they built in the wider
landscape. And I realised that the more attractive the
compost pile was to the rats, the easier it was to control their numbers. So, in the context of this RED Gardens Project,
I’m actively attracting rats to my compost pile, away from the houses and the broader
landscape, and taking responsibility for killing them. I’ve been quite successful at this over
the years, and have developed a number of different methods, but sometimes I’ve been
less successful, and these have been great opportunities to learn some more. Some of my neighbours still have problems
with the way that I manage this composting facility, and would prefer that I had conventional
rules of not allowing certain types of material. But, if these materials weren’t allowed,
then where would they be composted, and how would I get the fertility back into my gardens,
I think these are important things to consider. Perhaps I could develop a rat-proof composting
facility, but that would be a hard thing to do, and even if I was able to achieve it,
the rats would still be in the landscape, and would probably do a lot more damage to
my gardens. I believe a background population of rats
is tolerable and inevitable, but we need to take responsibility for managing their numbers. Within the context of abundant food and lots
of habitat, and not enough predators, I’ve found that a compost pile is by far the best
rat trap. Well, if you made it to the end of this video,
I do hope that means that you valued what I had to say, or at least found it interesting. As with all of the videos in this YouTube
channel, and with my work in the RED Gardens in general, I try to focus on the specifics
of my own experience, rather than trying to give some generalised advice. If you value that type of approach, and like
the work that I’m doing, please consider supporting me by going to my Patreon page
linked here or in the description below. As always, please like, subscribe and share,
but most importantly, thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “Dealing With Rats in the Compost (warning – images of living and dead rats/animals)

  1. I'm giving this a thumbs up simply because you address all the different perspectives and nuances. Great job!

  2. I respect how you deal with rats effectively while still retaining some humanity and forethought towards the issue.

  3. A well planned rat factory would be wonderful protein producer in severely hard times. Rodent bones and fish bones are the most plentiful bones in prehistoric midden piles.

  4. They are nasty animals that spread disease and damage buildings and equipment.  Kill them on site by any means necessary.  The best way to keep their numbers down is to get a cat and under feed it.

  5. I would suggest maby keeping a cat near the bin chances are it will travel into the outside land scape and get nests and if it's fixed you won't have any baby cats

  6. Gotta deal with real problems. Health, production, value, these creatures detract when outside of nature. A garden is outside of nature.

  7. Thanks so much for the informative video content! I like that you think and approach problems from a logical perspective 🙂

  8. As a now retired Environmental health officer I can confirm that you are correct in assuming that there is a background population of 'brown' rats. This is important as they restrict the spread of 'black' rats which spread plague. Control is the answer. This also reduces the chance of getting Weil's disease. This is spread by rats in their urine, but the bacteria is killed by drying. Rodents, including rats, tend to pee fairly constantly and if they do so on wet vegetation the bacteria will survive, think rain and dew rather than rivers. Tell your doctor that you are at risk as prompt treatment is necessary.

  9. there are traps that will reduce your rat population to visitors only, you just need a trap they cant learn from like the magnetic plank traps.

  10. How I ended up in here? I have no interesting in gardening but I can't stop watching this dude as he's a very good speaker. Nice.

  11. I use poison, at this stage I can't deal with them anymore. I get hundreds of rats. But since using the poison absolutely 0 rats

  12. Physical barriers for eg tomatoes is the only thing that works for me: they can strip a fruit tree in a night.

  13. Developers are tearing out all of the old orange groves to put up new housing.. Rats that have been there decades have overtaken Central Florida neighborhoods.. Most people have no clue.. Its out of control atm.

  14. Rats are VERY smart. I've had them as pets as a kid. They are just trying to live, but then, what can you do when you are trying to farm.

  15. Logical and reasonable.
    You are not being vicious.
    That implies unwarranted action.
    I myself have the compost too close to the house to tolerate any rats.
    Meat and bones go to the dog or city composting.
    There is more than enough types of compostable
    material given away for free to make up for any losses to my garden.

  16. I'm in the USA had a compost pile for years and never had a rat problem but I think it was mostly the snakes that kept the rats under control. You can speed up the process add lime are cover it with a tarp.

  17. best rat trap I saw was a large trash bin buried in the ground, and you put a piece of plastic on top with one area of it that cut so if a rat walks on it, it falls thru into the bin.
    it was extremely effective from the video. thou you need some form of rat food to attract them onto of the bin.

  18. Thanks for this. I normally tolerate a few rats around the compost and trap when I start seeing more. This year I had a minor explosion of rats in around the chickens. I put up finer mesh and sealed up thd coop better to at least make them work. Taking out the feeders at night helped a bit. I trapped a couple a day but still not enough.

    A few fallacies ive come across. First, the chickens were no help at all. Maybe a rooster would be more aggresive but the girls just watched them help themselves to their food. Our neighborhood cat spent a day playing with a small rat he cornered and was otherwise unhelpful. I sometimes get lucky with a stick or spade but I clearly dont have your skills.

  19. If your compost is attracting rats, it's not compost, it's rot. I recommend looking up the Berkeley Rapid Compost method. Roughly three weeks from start to finished product, and it won't attract rats. See here for an excellent primer.

  20. Have you heard of the "dunk the rat" plank, a self-resetting trap? Check this out:

  21. What a wonderful compost for the environment👍. A suggestion for your rat population. Get an A24 rat trap. There are video examples of the device working on YouTube. It works beyond excellent and it has a rat counter of how many rats it takes out. My dad was sold on it after. A rat ate his oxygen sensor on his pick up truck cost him $500. After buying one it killed 3 to 4 rats Immediately.After that he bought at least a dozen of them for his properties. The only negative thing about the rat traps they are expensive. After each kill other predators cats,birds or other rats will take the dead rat away. Must watch the YouTube video on the A24 rack trap you will be sold on it😁👍. Note this is far better than those plastic bait trap that only has the rat die off in humanely including all other predator cats,birds,coyotes bobcats very bad for the wildlife community😫😢😫🙁.

  22. Nature created this amazing rat disposal system, they;re called cats. I'm assuming you're a dog person based on what you said and that you never brought up cats. Not only do cats kill rats but rats fear them so they end up being a passive system for getting rid of rats. If you want them to be effective cut their rations in half. If cats are well fed they get lazy and will only hunt rats for sport but if they're hungry the rats don;t stand a chance. For a dog person rat terriers are a better choice but they are less passive and generally work in tandem with a handler like you with the neighbor's dog. If you do try cats if you keep chickens you have to raise the cats around chickens so they don;t see them as food and you can;t cut their rations or a hungry cat will eat whatever is around including chickens. It's why most keep 3 or 4 cats around so one is always bored and looking for sport so they will chase the rats and mice. You're putting a lot of thought and effort into a problem that could be solved with a few cats. They don't get rid of a hundred percent and they most drive off the rats but they will keep the problem managable.

  23. Very easy solution, CATS! Growing up we have always had at least 2 cats and dogs at a time, sometimes up to 6.
    They like to bring them to the front door so they get a treat when they get a kill.

  24. this video made me subscribe. its only the second video of yours that i have watched, but i deal with a constant influx of mice due to my raising quail and them being extremely messy eaters. i always add the mice into my compost heap as well as dead quail and bad eggs from them. It is nice to know that other people are not always leave the poor creature alone till the population is so terrific that disease takes over. great video and will keep watching and hope for more. Extremely well thought out, very clear and to the point. great job.

  25. I must say your channel is so full of great tips, thoughts and advice, thank you! We need less showmen and more people with balanced opinion and scientific approach not just here on YT, but in general.

  26. oh my. i kill them too, but i don't encourage nesting to destroy it later. sick. i segregate all of my rat attracting foods to a seperate bin wrapped in chicken-wire with a lid. you are FEEDING the rats whatever goes into your unsecured compost!

  27. @redgardens my terrier dog was the best mouser!! Have you heard of this composter??

  28. There's a rat in my garden, he's just eaten a custard cream, tomorrow I will give him some apple and cheese. He's one of god's little souls. Why would I harm him?

  29. Me and me dad played cat. Got a shovel, dug up the compost to find a nest. Took the babies and when the mom came to find them we hit it with the shovel

  30. Goodness, what a difficult thing. I dislike rats in the compost pile, but those baby rats you showed were awfully cute. I'd have a hard time killing them. That said, half my corn this summer has become rat food. Ugh. Thanks for your insights. I think what you've chosen makes sense in your situation. I think in the long run I'd prefer a system of feeding buzzards and other raptors.

  31. Very helpful. Although it would be interesting to know a bit more on how a cat could help.
    Thank you so very much and greetings from Portugal.

  32. Youre knowledge from the experiences through experimenting all these and more are incredible. Thanks for sharing 👏🏾👍🏾

  33. That Sir is the best Rat video I have viewed and congratulate you on its production and content. As a retired surveyor, I have worked on many construction sites and surveyed properties in London close to the docks and river and now retired have an allotment and yes we have rats. Thanks for sharing Mike

  34. My Grandfather (an old farmer from WW2) had the same approach with the netting in and single entry/exit method back in the 80's, it is by far the most effective way of dealing with the situation, sometimes good that old habits don't go to waste and good that you take responsibility with a balanced ideology.

  35. Those bastards are in my house and they ate my ramen, potatoes, and more. They won’t stop coming. I have killed 20 and they just wont stop coming.

  36. in SouthAfrica, rat prob stopped when the snakes came,..then i had a snake I miss my rats.

  37. Second video I've watched from you and your getting it .. be diligent.. your becoming a country boy like it or not

  38. Oh, you're Irish! Just found you tonight; couldn't figure out your slight accent. You must get asked this a lot but really wondering why you have such a slight accent?

    Well…..trying to figure out how to start composting (mostly an ornamental garden, mine), and I can thank you for putting me off any kind of open system! Maybe next time around I'll be more like you? But this time,.no rats for me. I hear you that they are still there, but….nesting in my compost? Good God no.

  39. What do you do if you have a big problem with killing anyting? I have voles in my yard and I know I need to get rid of them, but I'm having a hard time figuring out morally and my heart what to do about them.

  40. From watching your videos, i've found you to be not only thoughtful, but an excellent learner! this may be your best characteristic. as for the rats, we had them on our farm, but not the little ones you have… big, Norway rats, with tails 12" long and longer, larger bodies. these rats you didn't mess with, and you were absolutely sure to pin them to the ground when you "dispatched" them with the fork, or they'd run at you. sorry for the gore, but, this just proves that taking care of them when young is the most humane way, as you ultimately discovered. two buckets, one with water + rats, the other on top, is a quick, clean solution to rats, assuming you don't have a rat terrier or some likeness. one thing you briefly mentioned is the benefit rats play in the greater ecosystem, and not having the compost pile, or making it rat-proof, would have reduced the overall population not only of rats, but of all the animals dependent on rats, too. your solution is a thoughtful compromise benefiting all members of the ecosystem. Well done!

  41. I am using the mix in equal parts of sugar flour and baking soda near the composter
    with blender.
    I keep it dry in a 6-liter bottle of water with 2 holes for entry and exit. They eat and die

  42. Excellent and thoughtful as usual. Accept for the occassional furry tailed native wood rat I never had them. As an avid life long wildlife/bird feeder recently rats were introduced from seed bags or a visitor's vehicle – yikes! It's a quandry as they are highly intelligent loving clan units, admirable and loyal little creatures whom clearly express grave concern for one anothers well being. Humans would benefit taking a lesson while avoiding the rampant offspring. Appreciate your sensitivity with a level approach to their management.

  43. I live in sweden. Our city wants us to throw meat and foodscraps in the trash.

    I do similar as you.
    Whenever i add my compost bucket i trigger my 4 rattraps and sprinkle some peanuts close to it, sometimes adding peanut butter. So now i have maximum 3 rats every summer.
    In the winter they are plenty. Probably because less food in that period.

  44. Rats hate moist compost. If I see rats in a compost pile I grab the hose and saturate the pile then 2 or 3 days later I turn the pile and by keeping it moist and turning every 2 to 4 weeks, as you recommend, the rats are controlled. They leave the compost after the first wetting. Another repellent that can be placed around. on top and mix into the compost is dog hair. Available from dog groomers.

  45. Amazing. Again thought provoking. While necessary, killing helpless creatures when young is not easy, but have killed numerous rats with airgun and poison (which is only used in roof of home). I detest using poison. Composting for many years now and do not have a rat problem in my heaps.

  46. I am hooked on your straight shooting way of speaking; you are not cold in the matter-of-fact way you speak. You remind me of a more mature and refined version of my 5yo autistic son ❤
    Keep up the great work!
    And thanks for the awesome information and excellent videos.

  47. Why with all of our intelligence and creativity is the only answer we can come up with is just kill everything that is any kind of problem? Here is a quote. from a paper titled "The Role of Ethical Judgments Related to Wildlife

    Fertility Control" DOI: 10.1080/08941920601052362

    "I just think it's unconscionable nowadays to say: "The best we can do is kill everything and that's a good solution." What are we in, the twenty-first century now? Surely if we can send people to the moon and beyond, we can do better. And so I would challenge everybody to work towards more creative goals."

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