Will rats be attracted to the HOTBIN?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014  |  HOTBIN Composting

Is the HOTBIN rat proof?

NO - Vermin control experts will tell you rats will eat through almost anything – including plastics, metal wire and concrete.

Can rats chew through the HOTBIN walls?

YES, but it is unlikely – See the design reasons below.

Will I get rats in my HOTBIN?

It is highly unlikely - 99.5% of HOTBIN users report no issue and remember our users compost meat, fish, leftover cooked food!.

Can I compost food waste (inc meat and fish) in the HOTBIN without rat problems?

YES - 99.5% of users report no issue.

We need to start by asking what the rats are looking for.

It is important to understand what causes rats to be attracted to composting in the first place so you can limit the risk. They want a warm dry place to nest, food to eat, and shelter from predators. Rats will burrow under soil to get to a warm, quiet nest site. They have teeth that grow for a lifetime, so they actively need to gnaw hard surfaces to keep them in trim. Rats find food via smell – the odour that comes from all decaying material attracts rats.

All compost heaps have the potential to attract rats.

Adding meat and fish to a cold compost heap should be avoided because they tend to decay anaerobically and the more pungent odours attract rats. Rats are omnivores and will eat anything - contra to popular belief they will eat vegetable peelings and green plant material - especially when they get desperate for food.

It is no coincidence that compost heaps are often associated with rats – a compost heap has the potential to be a ‘warm home’ with a ‘takeaway’ attached.

Millions of UK homes compost without rat problems, but this does not avoid the simple fact that an awful lot of compost heaps, gardens, sewers and houses have rats in or around them.

What don't rats like?

  1. Contact with humans – Often the big difference between a compost heap with and without rats is the number of times the heap is attended by humans.
  2. Open spaces – They prefer dark quiet places away from predators.
  3. Flat smooth surfaces - They cannot get their jaws around or teeth into flat smooth surfaces to gnaw.

The HOTBIN claims composting food waste without rats – What does this mean and how does it work?

We do not want any customer or potential customer to misunderstand our advertising. If a HOTBIN is operated correctly it will not attract rats. We do not mean that the HOTBIN is rat proof and capable of resisting a full on attack by a rat.

The HOTBIN minimises the risk of attracting rats using good design:

  • The HOTBIN minimises composting odours via aerobic composting and filters odour out through the valve in the lid – Therefore there is less odour to attract rats.
  • The HOTBIN disperses the small amount of odour coming out using a filter and an aeration valve which is 1m above the ground and hence above normal rat runs.
  • The HOTBIN keeps the compost/waste moist which is not a desirable dry nest location site for rats.
  • The active uppers layers in the HOTBIN can be retained at 40-60°C - 60°C is too hot for rats to survive.
  • The HOTBIN wall surfaces have rounded edges to prevent gnawing – There are smooth rounded corners with no sharp edges or gaps.
  • The HOTBIN has no holes for them to enter into the HOTBIN.
  • The EPP plastic used in the HOTBIN has no food value to rats – They will not eat the plastic as food
  • Attending the HOTBIN to add food waste every 3-4 days will deter rats.

The HOTBIN has been designed to be located close to the house to encourage recycling. If you locate your HOTBIN in an open aspect, near human activity it will greatly decrease the risk of rats being attracted to your HOTBIN.

We continue to improve the design of the HOTBIN to ensure it becomes even less attractive to vermin. However customers and prospective customers need to be aware which situations and actions will increase or decrease the chances of a rat being interested in their HOTBIN:

When you already have an infestation of rats in your compost heap or garden, immediately replacing the old compost bin with a HOTBIN in the same location is high risk. You are taking away the easy food source (old compost heap) and just replacing it with food behind a closed door. The rats are going to get desperate and seek a way through the door and they will be highly aggressive in finding food once starving.

If you already have rats, it is much better to:

  1. Remove the old heap and all food waste
  2. Cease all composting for 2-3 months. Encourage the rats to leave first
  3. For serious infestations (especially in urban areas) get the professionals in to trap and remove them first.
  4. If you have a rat infestation, when setting up your HOTBIN, you need to add extra protection: wrap 1cm square wire mesh around your HOTBIN to protect it. When the infestation has been cleared, then a correctly operated HOTBIN will not attract rats.

When setting up your HOTBIN:

Locate your HOTBIN on a hard surface - Place it on flagstones to avoid rats burying underneath and using it for a nesting site. Do not rest the HOTBIN on 4-small flag stones at the corners as this will just make it even easier for the rats to create a nesting site

Keep the door hatch panel closed - Hot odours rise however some odour can escape around the door hatch panel while the HOTBIN is being filled. At all times ensure that the HOTBIN door panel is tightly closed. When replacing the door panel (eg after emptying waste); you must wipe around the edges of door and hatch to ensure no loose pieces of waste are left in the joints. Even small pieces of waste will create weak spot and the door will not correctly seal. This weak spot could be attacked.

Take extra care when filling the HOTBIN for the first time – Loose waste in the base tends to flow to the door and put more pressure on the door ‘pop seal’ than moist compost formed after a few weeks of use. The door joint has a tolerance and will open by a few mm under very high fill rates. It is very important you use both cam belts (supplied to all customers) to pull the door tightly closed before filling. You should not be able to see any waste through any gaps around the door panel.

Always clean up - At all times ensure no food waste is left around the base or lid of the HOTBIN, this is a free takeaway and will attract rats.

Look after your HOTBIN - Repair any damage to the HOTBIN.

In summary, the HOTBIN has been designed to reduce its attraction to unwanted visitors and in 99.5% of cases this works. The location and keeping the area tidy around your HOTBIN is also important in minimising its appeal. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee 100% that there will be no occurrences but we are continually working with our customers on how we can limit this together through education and development.