Some people think all compost piles attract unwanted pests, like raccoons and rodents. That’s not necessarily true, because it’s what goes into the compost pile – not the compost pile itself – which may invite pests. Here are a few tips for keeping unwanted guests out of your compost bins and piles.
The presence of fatty food wastes in the compost pile is an open invitation for critters to dig in. Discourage the interest of raccoons and other larger critters by avoiding disposing of fatty and oily food scraps. Fats and oils do not decompose so well in the typical backyard compost pile mix. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of raccoon damage: Keep meats and oils out of the compost pile, and keep your local wildlife uninterested.
Small amounts of some fatty or oily kitchen wastes might be composted in a worm bin, with caution. Some locations may have collection sites for composting such food scraps. If you have plenty of ground in garden beds, and you’re committed to keeping food wastes from the municipal waste stream, try composting by burial. Fatty wastes buried at least eight inches deep will slowly decompose and (usually) be too deep for a critter to bother.
Rodents – mice and rats – are other likely invaders into a compost pile. They may be attracted to fruit and vegetable wastes, including seeds and shells. Following good composting practices is a great way to prevent rodent invasions. Add food wastes deep into the compost pile. The space barrier will keep most rodents away. If that’s not a great enough deterrence, a well-turned, properly constructed pile will stay too warm inside for rodents to be comfortable burrowing deeply in.
Rodents can get into all kinds of containers – including compost bins, which have openings for the air circulation needed for proper composting. Keep your compost bin inspected regularly, and patch any holes or damage with rodent-resistant materials. If you plan to compost lots of kitchen or garden wastes, consider a rodent-resistant bin design. This could be especially useful if your compost site is located near field or forest.