Is it safe to bury a rat, approx 12" deep in my vegetable garden? I grow tomatoes, cilantro & peppers. Does it pose any health hazard?
If its a wild rat, the risk is actually to you, when you're handling it, rather than any vegetables growing in your garden next year. They are known to carry various diseases, so its usual to glove up, wear a face mask and put it in a plastic bag, seal it, then in another bin bag and, if its allowed in your area, dispose of it with your usual trash. If you want to bury it, I'd make it 18 inches down, wearing protective gear until its well and truly buried. https://www.terminix.com/blog/diy/dispose-of-dead-rat/
At only 12" something will likely come along and dig it up, maybe making a mess and placing a memory marker in some little brain as a place worth revisiting. One person's garbage is another's treasure. As decomposition starts vapours rise to the surface of the soil signalling the presence of something that is worth investigating. Some creatures have highly tuned sensors. Unless your compost is working vigorously the vapours will be more easily detected. One suggested process is to take a long handled spade, dig a deep hole in a part of the garden not much used or in fallow, pick up the rat with the spade, throw in hole and cover. As deep as you can easily manage, deeper than cultivation practices normally would require.