The Unexpected Little Animals That Get In Compost

Last updated on October 21st, 2023 at 10:26 pm

Some small animals find refuge in the compost heap which, as it decomposes, gives off heat which they enjoy, especially in winter. Beyond the astonishment of finding them there, let’s accept these small animals which have a perfect legitimacy there!

L'orvet apprécie tout particulièrement les tas de compost

Legitimacy of small animals in the compost heap
As the conscientious gardener was about to throw the contents of his wheelbarrow on the compost heap, suddenly frightened little eyes looked at him and triggered more or less reasoned reactions! Heavens, a rodent! What if it was a rat? Or even a colony of rats! So here is our gardener, determined to eradicate the poor critters, especially if the animal has caused panic in the family, or worse, with the housewife.

The Unexpected Little Animals That Get In Compost

Mice, voles, shrews, field mice like to squat in the compost heap without it being technically problematic. These small animals are all perfectly harmless and only the irrational fear of rodents can justify this visceral reaction leading to elimination.

The same effect can be produced by the presence of orvets. These animals of the Anguidae family, are not reptiles as their appearance suggests. They are neither venomous nor dangerous, they are in fact legless lizards that are very useful in the garden since they hunt many invertebrates.

The hedgehog can also come and take refuge near the compost heap. Fortunately for them, they are considered ‘too cute’ and therefore do not run the risk of being harmed by their appearance. On the contrary, it will be protected as it should be and as the other small animals in the compost pile should be, whether they are orvets, voles, field mice or mice, because they all have a legitimate place in the compost pile.

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Rodents help to remove or reduce the hardest organic waste by gnawing on it. They also aerate the compost heap by moving around and digging galleries. Knowing that good ventilation is essential to the decomposition process of organic matter, these small animals should be welcomed.

Ornets, as we have seen, rid the compost heap of many parasites, and hedgehogs feed on gastropods!

Why are small animals attracted to the compost heap?
As the compost decomposes, it gives off heat, so small animals come to take refuge in it to gain a few degrees in winter. They also find it easy to eat. Herbivores feast on kitchen waste and carnivores rid the compost pile of numerous invertebrates. As for the rodents, they reduce the organic mass that would otherwise have a hard time decomposing!

Let’s accept these small animals in the compost heap, they have a perfect legitimacy there!


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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