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Q.Does Compost Attract Rats?

Anonymous added on January 1, 2011 | Answered

Local “environmentalists” have been collecting all the leaves and other garden waste that is swept up from the entire compound and are stacking them along three sides of this small garden. This is what they are calling “natural composting”, with the only instructions given to the gardener being to stack the leaves etc and water them daily. Our staff complain that these leaves are harbouring rats and we are experiencing an escalation in insects of all kinds around the building including mosquitoes. I must add that we live in Bombay, India – a tropical climate.

Is this kind of “natural composting” wise? Could it cause a rat and mosquito/insect menace?

This whole question has arisen because we are being prevented, in the interest of the environment, from adopting rodent control measures that include rat poison. We are being told, instead that we should adopt non-toxic methods like filling rat holes with glass and cement. Most of us feel that glass and cement is a very cruel way of dealing with the problem and not effective.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on January 1, 2011

The composting could be causing the issues with insects and rats, particularly if the compost pile is not being turned frequently. In small spaces, especially in urban areas, composting should be contained in a bin of some kind and should be turned once a week or so to speed up the composting process and to eliminate water pockets and holes where insects and animals could breed.

I can understand them wanting to try to control the rat population with non-toxic methods, but filling the holes with glass and cement seem like a environmental issue in itself (because who will go back to remove it, not to mention that cement normally has its own "toxic" chemicals) and therefore not very wise. If they really insist on you using non-toxic methods, fill in the holes with plain dirt and look into methods like ultrasound to keep the pests away or snap traps. Personally, I am not opposed to poison myself,as long as it is used responsibly.

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