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I have a compost heap at the back of my property, probably 30-40 feet away from the house. It's one of those simple "circle of chicken wire on bare earth" ones, with most of the material being rotting vegetables from the boxes my wife gets and maybe an occasional leftover bone that's been stripped of meat. I don't really compost seriously, mainly using it so I don't feel so guilty when a fruit or vegetable goes unused and we toss it in there. About a month ago, I noticed that things seemed to be "escaping" out of a hole, which I initially assumed was just a matter of the soil within collapsing and there being a depression on the ground, but it's been happening fairly often even when I fill things in. More recently, I found two halves of a dead mouse by the compost heap, and today, I found a whole dead mouse. I haven't seen any live ones yet, but:

  1. it worries me a bit that I might be attracting vermin and
  2. I'm not certain why they're turning up dead next to the heap.
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  • The mice are enjoying the compost, and something (a cat?) is hunting them. – Polypipe Wrangler Oct 15 '20 at 4:52
  • Probably the case. I'm hoping nothing in the compost is leading to all of the deaths. – Sean Duggan Oct 15 '20 at 5:03
  • Your compost method is undoubtedly attracting vermin. Whatever it is that's killing the mice, it's not your compost. – kreemoweet Oct 15 '20 at 20:05
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Do you live near anyone else? I live in the suburbs and folks in our area regularly debate the issue of using poison to get rid of mice and rats. When a mouse is poisoned it will die somewhere else later. If you find a whole mouse it's possible (likely?) that it was poisoned somewhere and came and died where you were.

To reduce the vermin you can:

  • tweak the things you compost so you are not composting items that attract them (the bones and whole food - chop it up smaller first, ideally, to accelerate the decomposition process).
  • turn the pile and keep the moisture levels and mix of carbon/nitrogen right so that it is hot. When the pile is hot it is less attractive to vermin.
  • Use a different compost style (e.g. a turning bin) that is harder for the vermin to get into. You can keep using your chicken-wire for longer term aging out the partially composted materials once they are composted enough that mice would be less interested in them.

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