Tips and Tricks To Keep Rodents and Critters Away From Your Compost Bin

Our compost pile 2011
I braved the heat yesterday (he've been having high's of 98-100 degrees and lows in the 70's and 80's all week) to do some quick watering.  While out there I noticed that a mouse had turned our concrete blocks near our compost bin as a house.  EKKK!  I ran like a girl into the house and didn't even water my plants.  I was thinking about it and realized yikes I created the perfect mouse environment without even realizing it!  Shelter and food nearby, the mouse has it made.  There is probably even a nest nearby.  Seriously not cool!   I first found out that we even had mice last year when Mr cat spotted one like 40 ft away.  They're not kidding when they say Norwegian Forest cats are true mousers (they were trained to kill mice on ships).  But that probably won't help us since we only let Mr Cat out of the house supervised about once a month (he climbs our house every chance we gets!).  I also know we have squirrels getting into our bin because I caught one on video once that was stuck in our bin.  I obviously need to do something, the question is what.


Image from Arizona Beetles, Bugs, Birds, and More
 How To Keep Critters Out Of Your Compost Bin
After some thinking and research I realized there are many things we can do, some are simple, others more extensive (like changing your actual bin).  I plan to start with the simple and see how that goes.  Here are some tips and tricks I found:
  • Don't Put any Food Into the Bin that Animals Can Eat So I hope if your already composting you know not to put any animal poop, or animal products into your compost bin (unless it's washed egg shells), but what about fruit and veggie scraps?  Well I only plan to put peels of fruits and veggies now in our compost bin, at least until I feel our compost bin is mouse proof. 
  • Keep Clutter That Can Serve as Shelter For Rodents Away From The Compost Pile  In my case I plan to remove our extra concrete blocks and put them in the garage
  • Water and Turn Your Compost Pile Frequently  My lazy but is guilty of not doing this.
  • Harvest Your Compost every 3- 6 months  to remove potential nesting temptations from the rodents.  I'm guilty of not harvesting our compost pile that often.  In fact I waited 3 years after first creating it to harvest it.  Our compost pile isn't making compost that fast either, perhaps we need to work on speeding that up...  that could be part of the problem too.  You can store your compost for later if you don't need it yet.
  • Put food Scraps in the Middle of the Pile  My lazy but is guilty of not doing this.
  • Keep the compost bin away from walls, ditches, and any other areas that might shelter rodents. Keep it as much out in the open as possible.  Ours is close to our garage but other than that not to bad once I move the concrete blocks
  • If you have open compost, enclose it. Get a suitable plastic bin or other compost structure from your local hardware store or garden center, or build your own enclosed structure. Open compost piles just make it too easy for rodents to access the tasty scraps. This is probably the most obvious one for us (as you can see from our picture above our compost bin is wide open and built from chicken wire)Coming up with a plan to enclose it will take some time so that will go to last on our list.
  • Have Your Cat Visit Your Compost Often  Since Mr Cat is really an indoor cat this one doesn't really work for us. And I know not every one has a cat, but If you have an outdoor cat, might as well take advantage of their mice killing skills.  You could even try to train your cat to pee close to your bin. 
Have you every had rats, mice, rodents, raccoons, possoms, etc get into your compost bin?  If so as always I'd love to hear your stories and any other ideals about how to keep animals out of the compost pile.

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