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I believe there are voles getting into my compost bin. I am not putting kitchen waste in the bin but no cooked food or meat. I can't prevent voles from getting into the compost bin, so my questions are: How can I discourage voles from getting attracted? What type of food should I not put in the bin? Are voles detrimental to the compost or will the compost still be usable in my organic vegetable garden? Should I put tea leaves, banana peels, watermelon rind, etc in the compost bin or will that attract voles? For the most part, this is a cold compost bin because I don't think I am able to heat it up naturally (that is a different issue).

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    Are the voles a problem? They are probably tunneling and aerating your compost piles for you. As well as eating and pooping out even better crap for your compost. Compost in the process of decomposition is self-heating. Voles will get into the mulch around roses for instance and could girdle the roses if hungry. Kill one vole and you'll get 10 to replace it...same with mice. The voles are there BECAUSE of the heat from decomposition and the food. Does anyone know of any downside to having these little guys involved with a compost pile? – stormy Aug 9 '16 at 20:24
  • Not a problem as yet. Just an observation that I wanted to get clarified so it does not become a problem. – JStorage Aug 9 '16 at 22:24
  • Let's just see what others come up with, you must know by now I am not a control freak and am a complete woose with little furry lives. Have never had a problem with any of them. In fact being the idiot I am, I have been feeding the wild bunnies and although the death rate is huge, we are getting a little population going. I've yet to find a problem with having a 'bunny spa and ranch' gig going! I give them all our leftovers and they poop it out and spread 'fertilizer' everywhere for this wilderness chunk of land. Voles and moles...even squirrels and gophers I've never had any problems. – stormy Aug 10 '16 at 0:29
  • Are you certain that it is voles? Could it be rats? – That Idiot Aug 10 '16 at 11:20
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    Could be rats. Not positive. – JStorage Aug 10 '16 at 15:11
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As the comments indicate, voles in compost might not be a bad idea in principle, and in fact might help the process. Use whatever materials you think are suitable. However voles in the garden are a completely different issue; while locating a compost pile close to an active garden might appear to be a good idea since then you don't have far to cart the waste and final compost, you might have to deal with vole damage in the garden.

Effects I have seen from voles in a Canadian garden:

  • Runs in grass plots visible as the snow cover melts; damage is cosmetic, and a good indication of where they are currently active and might be hiding
  • Chewed potatoes and tomatoes; voles will scrabble in the soil once they learn where the potato patch is to chew at the exposed tubers, and will get at your low hanging toms particularly in dry spells
  • Pole beans snipped off at ground level once they get to medium height; the foliage gives cover for them to hide under while they chew at the base. Again I think this is access to moisture, I think they drink the sap oozing from the cut end in dry spells
  • Bark girdling of fruit trees; in one particularly hard winter I lost 90% of my tree collection to girdling. The only trees spared were the pears.

From this I learn that voles in compost close to the garden (but not the orchard) once the season is over is fine, but as soon as the new season starts the remaining compost is moved far from where I am growing things.

PS allow foxes to get to the compost, if it fits with your other goals. It is fun to watch foxes prancing on the snow to get the voles and mice to reveal themselves.

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