Updated: Feb 19, 2022
In the name of keeping our food waste out of the landfill or septic, many of us leave food waste unsecured in yard waste compost bins or, even, toss it out on the ground for wild creatures to eat. Rats and mice are wild creatures, and they love your food waste. With an abundant food source, they take up residence nearby and breed prolifically. You should care.
Here is why you should care:
1. Rats spread disease to your family and pets inside your home and out in your yard. The CDC lists 11 diseases transmitted by rodents.
2. They take up residence in your landscape, your outbuildings, your house, and in your car. They also move into your neighbor’s house, outbuildings, and cars.
3. They are destructive. They chew through wires and insulation, causing fires and shorts. They do the same thing in your car cabin and engine. They chew through floor joists and walls. They can undermine hillsides and retaining walls with their burrowing.
4. They are dirty. Rats and mice defecate, urinate, and mark their territory with abandon. It stinks. When they are in or under your house or outbuildings, they will make themselves known through scent and scat.
5. You will increase the number of snakes, foxes, and coyotes close to your home. An abundance of rodents brings an abundance of rodent predators.
6. Native birds, insects, and other creatures will be overhunted by a large rodent population.
7. Rats and mice prey on your chickens, baby chicks and eggs. Upset chickens do not lay many eggs.
Yes, rats are everywhere. They are part of a balanced ecosystem and have benefit. The question is, do you want to increase their population near your home by feeding them.
· Keep food waste out of your yard waste compost pile.
· Recycle your food waste into nutrient rich plant food. Check out worm composting instructions on my website. It is super easy and inexpensive. Worms, wastepaper, and food waste reside in a sealed container with drain holes. It also recycles your paper waste.
· Bury your food waste. You can bury your food waste, but you need at least 12 inches of soil on top of it and around it. This can keep out rodents and other animals. Beware. Seeds will sprout.
· Secure pet food and waste.
· Be very careful with bird feeders. There is a reason that they are referred to as “Rat Feeders”.
· Use exclusion strategies to keep rodents out of your buildings.
· Educate yourself.