How to deal with rats nest in compost heap?

In our new garden there are lots of big compost piles which is great, but the biggest near the polytunnel where I want to start growing edibles clearly has a large rats nest in it :scream: with a few obvious burrow holes.

I’m not sure how to deal with this, I don’t like killing anything but I think we do need to get rid of these. The neighbour has lots of cats patrolling the area already. Because of this and being in a remote spot with wildlife means I’d rather not use the bait poisons. I think the only route are the snap traps, which are also more humane because they kill instantly. But I’m pretty scared of rats and the thought of picking up a dead one to, I guess put in a bag and throw away(?) is not something I think I can deal with! Lol

I know they hate disturbance and change, so I’m thinking of turning and moving the whole heap to another location. It’s massive so that’ll take time but I think worth it.

But it feels I have to deal with the rats first otherwise they just go elsewhere, perhaps to the house or elsewhere in the garden. And I’m conscious we’re near spring when they start breeding.

Help! :joy:

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oh my god! what a welcome party… :wink:
my mum had the same problem year, and the only thing that really worked was poison. we hated to use it, but there really was no other way to get rid of them… good luck, jack!

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Haha I know, don’t the rats know about social distancing guidelines!

As much as I want them gone, I’m prepared they’re a part of life in the countryside, so it’s interesting learning how to deal with them now to help prevent them in future. The compost heaps are going out in the open further away!

They’re everywhere here in London. They keep themselves to themselves mostly and we were told that however many you might kill there’ll be plenty more to take their place so killing is pointless.
Turning the heap sounds a good idea and then just live with them. They’re everywhere like spiders and flies.

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Moving the compost to another location and turning it sounds like your best bet. I guess it’s just vegetable matter in there but I suppose the warmth makes it the ideal nesting spot. I agree with you that poison is not an option. Love the photos you’re sharing of your new life in Yorkshire. What an exciting move!

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Lore says rats don’t like lavender… So grow heaps and throw the lavender flowers in the compost.

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Thank you everyone, it sounds like I need to stick to my guns and hope the plan works! I will try the lavender too, just need to grow a lot of it! :slight_smile:

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When we were young we lived in a house built on top of an old stable in Jamaica Plain, MA. It was built in the 1600’s so for the US, quite old. Rats lived in the walls of the house. We used traps. So, I have a couple of comments.

It is a bit grisly to kill them; but, once they are in a structure, it’s the only way. Gloves and bags and large baited snap traps.

Our most recent encounter with rats was recently in the Bay Area where they are everywhere. Most houses have wire screens on any possible opening that rats can enter to keep them out of the house. And most houses are without basements. Our house had covered openings in the closets down into the crawl space. When you lifted covering, a giant rat trap was on the ground below.

I hope in moving the compost heaps you don’t end up with a lot of rats attempting to migrate into your house. So, I wonder if you could encourage the rats to migrate from heap to heap away from the house?

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I posted a similar thread to Facebook and it was taken off by the group administrator

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Why was it taken off? It’s a genuine concern - was it because of harm to the rats?

Thank you, some wise words there. I think you are right that I have to be careful not to move them from the cosy warm heap to our cost warm home.

Oh man I would hate being near rats !!! Either move the compost pile and it would disrupt the rats or call in some rodent experts to rid them

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What a horrible discovery. They really aren’t nice things to have around. In the last couple of years there have been some nearby and we can’t leave our doors open in the summer (I was paranoid enough to make that a rule before any incident, but last summer my OH left the back door open for only a few moments and we later discovered we hadn’t been alone in the kitchen while having lunch, but only when we spotted our visitor taking a tour of the house, presumably to find a way out. I didn’t react very well!)
So my advice would be to dispatch as many of them as you can, as a live rat is likely to be a breeding rat. That said, the snap traps weren’t very successful for us and we’ve reluctantly used poison. I read somewhere that a bait has been invented that makes rats sterile and I wish that was available and could be widely used.
I do find having them around becomes less alarming when taking steps to discourage them or dispatch them, so anything you can to keep the area tidy (which goes against instincts for benefiting nature) and moving things around may help both the problem and the worry. It’s easy to become a bit obsessed.

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Try and remove their food source and habitat. They sound like they are reasonably comfortable. So try and disrupt them as much as possible and keep moving stuff. A jack Russell would be a good investment, they are great ratters. I would also get a pest control company in for advice.

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Yes. I’m all against cruelty to animals but rats spread diseases and would hate my Labrador puppy to contract anything from them

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I love pet rats but garden rats can be a real pest. They eat anything so that makes it hard to feed birds and hedgehogs without encouraging them, never mind making compost (hmmm, warm and full of tasty things!)

I live surrounded by fields (lots of wheat) and had a period where I had lost my two beloved cats. One night I thought I saw something in the garden and turned on the light - the ground was covered in rats and mice - one rat came up the back door! We soon got two more (lovely) cats who put them in order.

Does Rumbles not like to hunt; or is she a indoor city cat? I could let you borrow my Kiva, she is real huntress :wink: She loves to check the compost heaps as part of her rounds.

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Use 32mm waste pipe, 600mm long, keep topped up with rat poison. Cats cannot get inside the tube. Extermination is the only way. I have heard of allotmenteers hiding in their sheds with air rifles and shooting them at dawn. They are dirty filthy things, morons feeding foxes does’nt help. Squirrels are as bad, they are just rats with a fluffy tail. And Herring Gulls are just flying rats, (Herring Gulls !!! the nearest they get to a herring is getting their heads into tourists fish and chip wrappers and the youth of our fine countries McDonalds waste. We do not help ourselves I’m afraid. Our rubbish attracts the rats and seagulls, and our stupid feeding of squirrels, foxes and badgers attracts them to our neighbourhoods. Not to mention fox hunting and badger baiting. This country of ours will be buried under its own crap in another 100 years if future generations do’nt do something.

Rumbles doesn’t do that much hunting but does catch the occasional mouse but we haven’t let him out yet as still getting him used to his new home :slight_smile: The neighbours have a number of cats and jack russells though, so they probably keep the numbers down a fair bit!

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Ah, take your time with Rumbles - you don’t want to get him confused with the change of scenery!

Maybe the neighbour animals will help out :slight_smile:

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Yes I hope so :slight_smile: I’m sure they’re making a difference. I’m going to move the compost heaps long-term to a more open spot where predators will be able to spot them going in and out more easily.

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