Rats Getting into Your Recycling Bin? | Here’s a Simple Fix : The Life and Times of BSF (Black Soldier Flies)
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Rats Getting into Your Recycling Bin? | Here’s a Simple Fix

by Terry Green on 03/02/14

Although it may be unnerving, wherever people live rats are invariably nearby. Rats looking for food and shelter will, given the opportunity, access compost and food scrap recycling bins. They can burrow up through the ground or climb over retainers to get at decaying vegetables, fruits and other sources of food tossed into compost piles. Rats confronting a plastic bin recycler seek out open holes in the bin design where they gain access by gnawing through the plastic wall starting from the hole opening in the bin.  This blog describes how to deny rats access to plastic bins inexpensively without having to resort to poison bait traps that are harmful to other wildlife and the environment.

While holes built into compost and food scrap recycling bins serve an important purpose in the operation of the bins, they are also the point where rats seek entry to bins. In the case of a composter, the holes provide for air exchange needed in supporting aerobic oxidation of waste added to the bin. In the case of a BSF Food Scrap Recycler, holes in the lid provide a means for for adult BSF to enter and exit in laying eggs inside the bin in addition to improving air circulation inside the bin.

Commercial plastic recyclers are designed with holes too small at the time of their construction for rats to squeeze through. Nevertheless, a determined (and hungry!) rat can gnaw through pretty much any of these types of bins. Rats look for vent or port holes in the bins, and by slipping their mouth and teeth around the edges of the holes, expand the edges of the holes to the point where they can then slip through and into the bin.

Fig. 1 shows a commercial compost bin modified by rats having gnawed their way into the bin through the air vents incorporated into the design of the bin, but also shows how this type of access can be discouraged by securing heavy gauge wire mesh over such holes as in the example of rat proofing vent holes in the lid of a BSF Food Scrap Recycler against this type of attack.

Quarter inch heavy gauge wire mesh netting can be obtained inexpensively at most hardware or big box stores. Simply cut a section of the wire mesh netting large enough so that it can be seated over the vent or port holes in your recycler. Secure it to the recycler using self-drilling large head screws.

image of how to rat proof BSF food scrap recyclers
Fig. 1. Upper left, Evidence of rats having gained access to the inside of a commercial composting bin by gnawing through the air vent holes in the side of the bin. Upper right, DipTerra LLC BSF Food Scrap Recycler showing vent ports for BSF access to interior of bin and air exchange before rat proofing the bin. Lower left, Close up view of wire mesh and self-drilling flat head screws used to secure mesh over vent ports. Lower right, Rat proof BSF Food Scrap Recycler with wire mesh secured by screws in place over vent and BSF entry ports. Copyright © 2014 Terry Green, All rights reserved.

Although a determined rat may eventually succeed over time in gnawing through the wire, the mesh discourages their entry. You can furthermore observe any breaks in the mesh caused by rats gnawing on the wire, and quickly replace it with a new piece before the rat can succeed in expanding entry into the bin. We now incorporate this rat proofing technology into the design of our recyclers based upon experience with this simple fix.

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