Does Compost Attract Animals? Ways to Keep Pests Out?

Does Compost Attract Animals? Ways to Keep Pests Out?

Composting is an important process to help reduce our carbon footprint, lower methane emissions, reduce garbage collection, and to practice environmental stewardship. However, this sometimes comes with a challenge or two. In this case? Attracting unwanted pests. All manner of creepy crawlies and little beasties can zero in on an open compost pile, making it a nice warm home, a place to eat your food scraps, or both! Some are mere annoyances, like flies and spiders, whereas some take that to the next level, (think rats and raccoons).

The composting process can also attract bigger problems. Like, bear-sized big. So, what can you do when your compost pile draws unwanted wildlife? Luckily, a lot. Read on and you’ll learn about compost, pests, and how to keep the two apart.

Compost piles can draw in all sorts of creatures, greatly due to leftover food scraps and other organic matter. Still, there is much that can be done to discourage animals and other unwelcome visitors. This article will provide you with several options.

Does Compost Attract Animals? 

Compost can attract animals and small pests. The types of creatures vary from neighborhood wildlife, like raccoons and rats, to bigger culprits, like dogs and bears. Insects and bugs can also be a nuisance. Pests in compost can be a pain, whether for simply being gross, or being downright dangerous.

A lot can be done to keep these unwelcome visitors under control. There are several kinds of enclosed compost containers that encase your pile, keeping it safe from exposure. Electric composters are another option, because they process the compost so quickly that they don’t have a chance to entice unwanted critters.

How to Keep Pests Out of Compost?

Wild animals, fruit flies, neighborhood dogs…what a mess. Seems like nature’s having a party at your expense! There are ways to cut this “guest list,” so to speak, and leave you with a neat, solitary compost pile without attracting wildlife. Here are five methods to help you do just that.

1. Use Enclosed Compost Bins

Critters can be crafty little things, but we all have our weaknesses. An enclosed, pest proof container seems to be theirs, something to take every advantage of! There are some great options that ensure kitchen scraps and other edible tasties don’t entice anyone looking for their next meal. It also keeps rodents like mice and rats away, who would otherwise love to make a toasty little home in your nice, warm compost pile. Check out these animal proof compost bins.

Not only do enclosed bins keep living things out, they also help in other ways. For one, it cuts down on the smell. Always a win. Another, it can help with aesthetics, tidiness, and ease of use, such as turning your compost, or layering browns and greens (more on this later). All great perks to utilizing this method. That said, be sure to do your homework and use a compost bin that has enough airflow to keep properly aerated. An indoor compost bin is also a good option.

2. Try Electric Composters

This is a perfect method for keeping pests at bay. Electric composters, such as Karfo, are not only enclosed, they’re also used in your kitchen, where there are fewer creatures to deal with. There are still plenty of unwanted indoor guests, such as bugs and pets, but that’s where the second feature of electric composters comes in. They work fast. Like, really fast. Typically, you can process compost materials within a day, leaving you with nutrient-rich dirt, instead of rotting kitchen waste. Fast processing means no time for icky smells to attract unwelcome attention.

Another handy feature of an electric composter? It’s cleaner. If you don’t want to deal with worms, rotten odor, or even just the physical demand of maintaining a compost pile, this might be the route for you. You’ll still produce precious organic soil, which can be used as a natural fertilizer, but you can do it from inside where it’s warm and dry. Yes please. Have a look at Karfo’s features, and see if electric composting is right for you.

3. Add More Dry Matter and Brown Materials to Your Pile

Brown materials are an important aspect in composting. They are typically made up of carbon-rich dry matter such as dead leaves, shredded paper, or hay. Greens, on the other hand, are nitrogen based and typically include more “wet” materials like fresh grass clippings, green yard waste, or food scraps. Having the right ratio of both is very important, especially if you want to ensure your compost pile doesn’t smell, which is sure to attract pests.

Here’s some information on browns and greens. Be sure to find the right balance to keep unwanteds at bay. Generally this is something along the lines of thirty parts brown matter to one part green. Excess moisture is particularly problematic, so be careful of how much green material you put in. One indicator of correct levels is that it should smell earthy. Adjustments can be made depending on moisture, temperature, and other factors that might affect the odor your pile is giving off.

4. Compost the Right Things

Protein is one of the most important nutrients in life, and animals are extremely aware of this. So are their noses, which will be drawn to any compost smells your bin may be emitting. For this reason, many sources will recommend against using things like dairy products, meat, and other such waste, as it can attract unwanted animals or even insects.

It is possible to compost cheese and other such proteins, but it needs to be done right or these components can attract creatures to your pile. Read up here on how to compost dairy correctly. Remember, compost ingredients matter, especially with food scraps. Just do your research and don’t toss last night’s steak remnants in your bin and expect not to lure in some interested party.

5. Turn Your Compost Pile Frequently

It’s important to turn your compost pile regularly. One reason is it disrupts any nests. These could be insect nests, or even rodents, who love a warm compost bin to wait out cold seasons. By physically agitating these otherwise cozy spaces, it encourages uninvited guests to move on somewhere more hospitable.

Turning frequently remedies odor problems too, the source of so many pest-related woes. It also helps to aerate the materials, which enables the decomposition to happen faster. This is because the microbes responsible for the composting process need oxygen.The more they have, the better they thrive. It may feel like a little more manual labor, but another perk of turning compost frequently is that it buries animal-attracting materials, like food scraps.

The recommendation is to turn your compost every 3-7 days, depending on what system you use. A compost tumbler may need to be turned more frequently than a more traditional pile, it all depends on materials, moisture, and other such factors.

5 Commonly Occurring Pests in Compost

There are all sorts of pests that want a piece of your compost action. Here are five common critters you may encounter and some tips to thwart them!

1. Compost Bins and Rats

Can compost attract rats? Unfortunately, yes. Yikes, right? Your compost pile can lure rats and attract rodents because it’s a great source of food and shelter. The warmth, a result of the decomposition process, provides a very tempting place to hunker down, making your compost pile the perfect home. Add a steady supply of kitchen scraps, why would they ever want to leave?

Because these little guys can carry disease and damage your property, it’s best to prevent them with the right kind of compost bin, before things get out of hand. Fortunately, there are many options, such as compost tumblers, dig-resistant materials like steel, or indoor systems. Here’s a great article on rat proof compost bins.

2. Raccoons in Compost

Ah, the adorable little trash pandas. These cute little menaces can actually cause a lot of problems. They can carry diseases, be aggressive, and attack pets if they feel threatened. They’re also especially good at getting into things they shouldn’t. Be sure to pick robust options when choosing your compost bin as they do attract raccoons. The old trick of putting a brick on your bin lid may not be enough, (raccoons are strong and dextrous), so consider moving your compost indoors or use ones with sturdy closing mechanisms, or even locks.

3. Composting and Bears

For most people, bears aren’t a concern in daily lives. For those who live in rural areas, it gets a bit more exciting in terms of these amazing animals. They can smell up to a mile away, especially food scraps, which means maintaining compost piles can be a challenge. When they make a mess, they make a big mess, too.

Fortunately, there are lots of bear proof composting systems, which can really help, including lockable compost, sturdy designs or even just indoor methods. Ammonia soaked rags can be placed nearby to help throw off their keen noses, giving you another tactic to deter these unwanted animals.

4. Bugs and Critters in Compost

When it comes to bugs, insects, and other creepy crawlies, compost has a complex relationship. Many people use worms to help the decomposition process go faster, as they aid in aeration and break down. Adding things like wood ashes to your worm composting bin can help keep acidity levels correct so the little wormies can do their job. Maggots are also helpful, but if they creep you out, here’s some tips on how to prevent maggots from entering your compost.

Besides helpful species, there are also insect pests that turn compost piles into a breeding ground of trouble. Ants, house flies, centipedes, slugs and spiders are just some examples. Besides throwing off the process of decomposition, they can harm your worm bin-if you use that method. There are ways to deal with bugs in your compost piles, both the good and bad. Some methods include wire mesh, utilizing more dry matter to reduce moisture, or adding hydrated lime. Here’s more information on addressing bugs in your compost.

5. Your Pets!

Ok, so while your adorable pets aren’t actually pests, they can cause plenty of trouble! Dogs, especially, can get in your trash or compost bin, looking for a tasty snack. You definitely don’t want your dog eating compost. Other animals, like cats or small pets can be attracted too. Since some human food is harmful or even fatal to many domestic animals, it’s important to take precautions to keep them safe.

Lots of solutions are available for snoopy pets looking for food. Take a look at these pet-proof garbage cans to start you off. Indoor compost systems with sealed lids also work well to deter curious creatures. For an outdoor compost pile, be sure to keep your pets clear or have an enclosed pile that’s tamper proof, such as via a wire mesh barrier.


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