Kitchen waste compost and rodents/rats

I live in Royal Oak, Michigan, a close-in suburb of Detroit. Recently a handful of rats were detected in a one-mile square area in the north end of my city. The city fathers (and mothers) were rightly concerned, and took action. One of the actions was to ban composting of all kitchen waste, because it was considered an attractant to rodents.
I have been using an Earth Machine composter for about 5 years now, and feed it regularly with vegetative kitchen waste and various yard scraps.
I am really very ignorant of rats (I did see one in an alley in downtown Detroit once, and it wasn't a pleasant sight!), but I find it hard to believe that rats would be able to get through the hard and comparatively thick plastic of which the Earth Machine is constructed.
Does anybody out there have any experience with rats and Earth Machine composters? I'd really like to know if a study exists that determines one way or the other how resistant they are to rats. Anecdotal evidence from hundreds of Earth Machine owners probably won't sway the city commission to rescind the ban (or change the ban to a ban on OPEN composting of food waste).
Thanks!
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William Asher wrote:

They just now noticed they have rats? Lead pipe cinch they've been there since the town was settled.

Lining the box with 1/2" mesh screen will keep rodents out.

Rats ain't all bad. The lab strains that nearly all life-saving drugs were tested on were bred from the same rattus Norvegicus species you crossed paths with in that dark narrow alley.
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William Asher wrote:

Rats are everywhere. Banning composting will not get rid of them.
--
Travis in Shoreline Washington

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Stand up and revolt freedomm to compost! Just do it any way unless you have a crochity old meany who lives next door who will turn you in. open composting attracts rodents I used to see llittle mice now and again in my compost even a rabit or two munching on a freshly tossed vegi when I just had an open compost but now I have a closed one and no trouble with bunnies or mice any more but the previous poster was correct they came on boats in the 1400's and they aren't going any where soon.
On Thu, 20 May 2004 07:15:46 GMT, Travis

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (William Asher) wrote in message

I live 45 miles WSW of you, and I pre-compost kitchen waste in a trash can (mixed with suitable brown stuff) before placing it in the compost pile (the purpose, of course, is to make the stuff inedible and not attract rats). I do see signs of rats, but they are concentrated exclusively in my flower beds, due to the abundance of bulbs and ivy ground cover. I have never seen a bite or a dropping in or around the trash can. I am pretty sure you are safe with your machine. I suppose my method would be at the edge of the ban, since the waste becomes unrecognizable by the time I dump it in the pile (if you want to be absolutely sure your stuff is gone by the time you dump it on the pile, use two trashcans in rotation).
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Sorry to do this to you. I love composting but Earth Machines are not rat proof. I had one, a roof rat chewed through the bottom and made a nice home in there one winter. It did a wonderful job of turning the compost for me. :)
You might want to consider watering your compost from time to time, this seems to annoy the heck out of the rats. Eventually, they left. Last time I saw one, my husband called me over to see a 'chipmunk' on the neighbour's picnic table. He'd never seen a rat before. :)
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (William Asher) wrote in

I have one of the black semi-conical Earth Machines. I haven't had any rat problems with it, but the plastic is less than 1/2 cm thick, and should be no problem for a determined rat to gnaw through. It probably wouldn't do so unless there was something tempting inside, like food or warmth. Not sure if vegetable scraps would qualify as tempting, but the heat from decaying vegetation in cold environments could be.
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I used to live just east of you in Warren. My neighbor saw a field mouse in the yard, and was concerned for his 2-year old daughter. He demanded that I get rid of my compost bin and put out poison for the mice. I told him that: 1 - I'm an organic gardener and would not put poison in my yard. 2 - His 2-year old will never catch a healthy mouse, but COULD catch one that was sick from rat poison. 3 - If you ever find a suburban neighborhood that DOES NOT have mice, call the EPA. It belongs on the Super Fund List.
He didn't take it well, and called the city on me. The city inspector checked out my compost bin and gave it a clean bill of health.
Rich McKinney Reply to snipped-for-privacy@Carolina-Dot-RR.Com Designed to fool the spam robots Humans will figure it out
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If outdoor composts was the source of all rodent problems, the solution would have been implemented a few thousand years ago. Some species of rats and mice have learned how to live off the food we store at home, warehouses, farms, or simply off the food we spill, and have been doing so ever since the first caveman called a cave home.
Ever consider how many thousands of insects and rodents can live off just the food spilled and thrown away in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant?
They should ban bird feeders, birds spill tons of food on the ground. Ban picnic tables, people spill food or leave food waste in the trashcan. Those two sources feed more rats then the handful of composted bins.
Sameer
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Good points.
The areas with the highest density of rats is the depressed inner city "getto" areas. Not a place where gardening and composting is very common.
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Someone wrote:

Anything they find edible is an attractant to rodents. Warmth and shelter is also attractive. Why the city of Royal Oak determined kitchen compost was at the root of their rat problem is a mystery. A determined group of gardeners should address this issue.
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