Three Things You Can Do To Keep Rats Out Of Your Dumpster

The word "rat" evokes a number of unpleasant feelings in most people, including dread, disgust, fear and revulsion. Unfortunately, rats have a long association with people and will gladly inhabit areas where food and other organic wastes are disposed. Dumpsters are obvious targets for rats, so if your business or organization utilizes dumpsters, you will need to exercise care to prevent rat infestation. Below are three things you can do to keep these unwelcome guests away from your trash containers:

Eliminate potential food sources

The first shot you should fire in the war against rats is to get rid of any potential sources of food. Rats will eat just about any edible substance, though they prefer grains, nuts and other proteins, and even fruits or vegetables. This means you must be diligent about separating all food from rats, or you are likely to find them "visiting" your dumpsters and inhabiting nearby areas. Here are few hints that can help:

  • Dispose of food waste in sink disposals - As much as possible, use sink disposals to grind up food and carry it away to the sewers. Disposals are easy to install and relatively inexpensive.

  • Seal garbage containers completely - Be sure to close lids on dumpsters or other containers and be sure they fit tightly. Replace or repair any lids that don't fit well due to warping or damage. If your container has rusted through at any point, notify your waste disposal provider of the problem, so it can be fixed. Even a hole the size of a nickel is large enough to permit rats to freely pass in and out of the container.

  • Securely bag food scraps or waste - If you must throw away food in your trash containers, then it is important to seal it inside leak-proof and odor-proof bags. It may even be necessary to "double bag" your food wastes to provide the most protection.

Destroy or obstruct nesting sites or burrows

Another way to keep rats from becoming a problem in your dumpsters is to eliminate areas where nesting and burrowing behaviors can take place. Instead of actually living in the dumpsters themselves, most rats will find another nearby space to sleep and rear their young. It has been shown that rats almost never live more than 300 feet away from their consistent food source, so perform a careful search of the outdoors within this area. Look for burrows underneath sidewalks or the edges of building foundations. If you find a suspected rat hole, flood it with running water from a garden hose, then fill in the opening with sand or soil. Not all burrows are active when found, but you should still destroy them whenever possible to prevent future occupancy.

In addition, be sure to eliminate unwanted openings into your buildings if these fall into the 300-foot radius. You will need to seal these entryways with silicone caulk if the gaps are relatively narrow. Wider gaps or openings can be sealed by using roofing cement as a glue to attach metal screen material to these areas. Just cut the screens to size and apply the cement to the edges and backside of the pieces. For a pipe that enters a building, you will also want to seal the gaps around the circumference of the pipe using a metal pipe collar.

Disrupt rat trails

Rats are creatures of habit, and they follow the same trail between burrows and food sources. Look for signs of rat trails in the grass, which are simply worn strips that are consistently followed by rats. If you spray these rat trails with a mixture of water and a few tablespoons of household bleach, the rats will find the bleach objectionable and stop using them. This disruption will help keep them from finding a comfortable place near your dumpster and encourage the rats to move on to more hospitable surroundings.

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