Rodents and Compost
Mice and rats can make great pets if you like that sort of thing, but they are terrible pests to have running around the garden. I greatly dislike killing cute little mice or even rats for that matter, but letting them run rampant presents hygiene and safety issues.
Mice and rats are well known for chewing through electrical fires and wreaking all sorts of structural havoc as well. Finding mouse and rat poop around the compost, garden and patio is not a particularly appealing occurrence either. So controlling these critters especially once you start to actively compost your greens and organic waste poses a problem for many residential home owners and community.
There are a few ways to approach the issue from green approaches, to controlling the population growth of rodents to traps and of course chemical means.
A greener approach to rodent control
Most rodenticides you buy in the supermarket contain rather nasty ingredients including Warfarin, Bromadioline or Brodifacoum. These chemicals are brutal on the animals. They die horrible deaths through internal bleeding and it can take anywhere from 3 – 10 days for death to occur.
Aside from the cruelty aspect to the rodent; given the length of time it takes for the animal to die, they tend to continue feeding on the bait for a while and the poison builds up in their system. As they become weaker, they become easy prey for other animals. Animals such as dogs, cats and birds of prey that feed on the poisoned rodents are then poisoned themselves. If it doesn’t kill the predator outright, the poison remains in their system for quite some time – so there’s greater chance of the next rodenticide affected mouse or rat they consume finishing the job.
The other issue is one of tolerance – rats and mice are hardy animals that breed regularly during their short life spans. Some Warfarin resistant strains of rats and mice are have been observed, so more of the chemical needs to be used. Other animals haven’t developed this tolerance, so chances of survival should they consume a poisoned rodent become even slimmer.
I’d hate to think how much “collateral damage” is wreaked upon the environment each year by these poisons. To top it all off, rodenticides are deadly in aquatic environments too – so never flush old poison down the drain.
While chemical rodenticides such as the above do have their place at times, it’s a case of prevention is better than cure.