Home garden and rodents

Asked March 7, 2017, 1:08 PM EST

We recently moved to the Milwaukie area. They have a rat pro lemme here. There are raised beds and we are won during if we can compost vegetable pieces not left over from food preparation directly into the soil or will it bring the rats.

Clackamas County Oregon raised bed gardening compost horticulture

2 Responses

This response delivers additional information for dealing with rats and other rodents who thrive on food scraps, bird seed unless properly protected from them.
The most important steps in controlling rodents involve sanitation and elimination of their home sites.

Sanitation: Store garbage etc. in rodent-proof containers. Do not scatter bird seed, if necessary, eliminate bird feeders. Do not add meats, eggs, dairy products to compost piles. Manage compost for rapid decomposition (equal amounts of brown-dry leaves & green materials; slightly moist; turn pile often), or enclose in a rat proof bin. Clean up fallen fruits & nuts from trees. Prune seed pods from shrubs. Store garden/lawn seed, bone meal, etc. in rodent-proof containers.

Eliminate shelter: Elevate compost, lumber & wood piles at least 12" above ground. Remove blackberries & brush from area, prune shrubs away from ground, and avoid ground covers that provide shelter. Traps are often preferred over poison baits for the following reasons: Poison baits, carelessly used, can harm children, pets and non-target animals. Sick rodents may escape to areas between walls or under floors where they die and decompose, causing odor and insect problems. Snap traps are recommended and should be placed in areas that are frequented by rodents. These areas can be identified by looking for gnaw marks, rodent tracks, droppings, urine stains, burrows or grease smudges along walls. An effective method of baiting snap traps is to bind a small wad of gauze into the trigger with thread and then work peanut butter into the gauze until saturated. The gauze acts to entangle the rodent's teeth so they can't escape before tripping the trap mechanism. Set the trap AFTER you place the bait on the trigger! Rat traps should be baited and left UNSET until rodents begin feeding. This will help insure success. Traps should be tied down or anchored in some way, as rats may drag the trap away if they are only partially (non-fatally) caught. Gum drops, bacon, nuts, oats and dried fruit may be used in addition to peanut butter for bait. Traps should be baited with fresh material regularly to remain attractive to the pests. There should be many more traps than rodents for trapping to be effective. It is best to place traps close to each other (every 5 - 10 feet for mice - no more than 20 feet for rats) and move them every few days if no rodents are caught. Be aware, though, that older rats MAY avoid a newly placed trap for over a week so, for rats, you may want to leave traps in place for two weeks before trying another place. Success is enhanced by placing traps with the trigger-end against walls where the rodents like to run. This allows the pests to run across the trigger from both directions. Traps can be reused without special cleaning. Use rodenticides as a last resort: Always read the label before using any pesticide! There are many rodent baits available on the market. These are usually ready-to-use baits containing an anticoagulant poison. When using rodent baits, they should be kept out of reach of children, pets and wildlife. The best way to make them inaccessible is to use well-constructed bait boxes with two access openings, just large enough to admit rats or mice (about two inches). With any bait, warfarin based baits in particular, stations should be placed so they are constantly presented to the pests. Follow the directions on the label for the correct dosage. If poisons are used, eliminate all other food sources, i.e. garbage, dog food, fallen fruit, compost, dog droppings, etc. If the bait is not touched for a few days, wait. Rats sometimes avoid a new bait for long periods before starting to feed. Whether you choose traps or poison baits, sanitation and elimination of hiding places are a must! If rat populations are high, trapping, poisoning or both may be considered.

Thank you