How to Compost Without Attracting Rats and Mice

How to Compost Without Attracting Rats and Mice

How to Compost Without Attracting Rats and Mice

Composting is a great way to recycle food scraps and yard waste into rich fertilizer for your garden. However, compost piles can also attract unwanted pests like rats and mice if not properly maintained. Here’s how I manage my compost without attracting those furry critters.

Select the Right Compost Bin

The type of compost bin I use makes a big difference in keeping pests away.

  • I avoid open piles and homemade bins made from things like chicken wire, since these have lots of access points for rodents.

  • I prefer enclosed bins made from plastic, wood, or metal. These limit access and containment points while still allowing air flow.

  • My favorite is a rotating drum style composter. The rotating design makes it harder for rodents to burrow into, and fully encloses the compost.

  • Bins with lids are also great for deterring rodents. Make sure to fasten the lid securely.

  • I place my compost bin up off the ground on blocks or bricks to prevent rodents from tunneling underneath.

Use the Proper Materials

What I put into my compost also makes a difference in pest prevention.

  • I avoid composting meat, fish, oils, or fatty foods as these can attract rodents.

  • I also limit putting large amounts of grain-based foods like bread, pasta, or rice in my composter. These can be rodent magnets.

  • My compost contains mostly fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters, egg shells, yard trimmings, and chemical-free paper products. These materials don’t appeal to rodents as much.

  • I chop or shred materials before adding them to my compost. Smaller pieces decompose faster, giving rodents less time to take interest.

  • I don’t put any dog or cat waste in my composter, as this can spread diseases to humans.

Maintain Proper Moisture and Temperature

My compost needs the right moisture and temperature to aid decomposition. This also deters pests.

  • I monitor the moisture and add water periodically if it seems too dry. Damp compost is less hospitable for mice and rats.

  • Turning and aerating my compost pile helps it maintain optimal temperatures of 130-150°F in the center. This heat kills pathogens and makes it inhospitable for rodents.

  • I use a compost thermometer to check the temperature and turn it frequently with a pitchfork or compost aerator.

Keep it Clean

Maintaining cleanliness around my composter also discourages pest activity.

  • I remove any food scraps that fall on the ground when adding to my compost.

  • I rake up any piles of leaves or debris near the composter.

  • I eliminate other easy food sources like uncovered trash cans or pet food bowls.

  • My compost area stays neat and tidy, eliminating hiding spots.

Use Natural Pest Deterrents

When needed, I use some natural repellents:

  • Sprinkling ammonia-soaked rags or spraying ammonia around the compost can deter rodents with its strong scent.

  • Placing mothballs near the opening of enclosed compost bins can also discourage pests.

  • I planted mint and garlic around my composter – rodents dislike their strong scents.

  • I also use natural predator urine like coyote or fox, which deters rodents when sprinkled around the bin area.

Know When to Call a Professional

If I notice signs of a major rodent infestation like burrows or droppings, I may call a pest control professional. They can assess the situation, seal entry points, and place traps or bait stations if an infestation exists. With proper composting practices, however, I’m able to keep pests away and recycling waste through composting.

Following these tips allows me to keep my compost working with minimal pest problems. With the right materials, containment system, and maintenance, composting doesn’t have to attract unwanted rodents. My compost enriches my garden soil without becoming a habitat for rats or mice with a little diligence. What practices work best for you to compost pest-free? Let me know!