mouse pee + compost = ?
April 24, 2007 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Any reason not to use mouse bedding in the compost?

My wife has an "in" on a fairly good supply of wood shavings from cage cleanout. The stuff works fantastic in the compost especially this time of year when good dry material is outweighed by a glut of greens. Like, never better. The wife, however, is a bit concerned that there may be some health issues with using the bedding, especially in the old veg garden. Anything we should be worried about?
posted by Ogre Lawless to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If it's a pet mouse (and was always a pet mouse -- from a breeder and such), there shouldn't be anything to worry about on the health issue. But as with any compost that uses stuff you wouldn't want to eat, you should make sure that the compost it gets hot. You'll probably want to augment it with additional manure of some kind. Chicken manure is the best, if you can get your hands on some.

The bigger problem is the wood shavings. Wood shavings take FOREVER to break down in compost, even when the pile gets hot. And if they're cedar shavings, you should avoid them entirely. Cedar has some kind of chemical that retards some of the beneficial organisms that go into making a good compost.

I'm an overzealous composter, but I'd avoid using the stuff, personally.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:56 PM on April 24, 2007

Depends on how you feel about Hantavirus, I guess. In other words, don't risk it.
posted by orthogonality at 3:56 PM on April 24, 2007

According to the Humanure handbook you can use your own poop in a compost without ill effects, if the compost gets hot enough (+70C?) and it sits for 2 years. Read up in the book, as there is probably a legitmate concern about pathogens from mouse dung.
posted by glip at 3:56 PM on April 24, 2007

If it was from my pet mice, I wouldn't worry any more than I would with a pet guinea pig. You need to know where this is coming from, though, the circumstances they are raised in. A lab? Please tell us.

By the way, saving a few big bags of leaves and keeping them under cover (I used to take them from the public park) solves the drybrown lack at this time of the year.
posted by Listener at 4:48 PM on April 24, 2007

direct sunlight will destroy any viable
hantavirus when it is exposed for approximately 30 minutes

... besides, pet mice are not going to have hantavirus. As for lab mice, if they are being given any drugs, those may not break down in compost. The general rule as far as pathogens in compost is that sustained temps of 55C/132F over 72 hours is enough to kill most pathogens- that's what is recommended for green waste composters (human waste and sewer sludge is a bit different). Also what mudpuppie said about cedar- softwood shavings compost fine, although they retain their texture. I don't think you'll have any problems with putting pet mouse compost around your plants. If you want to be extra careful, avoid getting it on any parts of the plants you plan to eat.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:49 PM on April 24, 2007

I have read that you are not supposed to use dog droppings in compost because the worming treatments dogs get can kill worms in the soil, or something along that line. I don't know what sort of worm treatments pet mice get, but perhaps that is also a concern?

Otherwise I would say go for it. I look in my compost bin and there are many things in there I wouldn't want to go near. I know mice have been in there in the past (since rectified that problem), and all those little bugs and things are busy eating and pooping, so I think it would all break down pretty well in the end.
posted by tomble at 4:57 PM on April 24, 2007

Mouse pee + wood shavings = where can I get some too, you lucky thing. Go for it.
posted by flabdablet at 8:15 AM on April 25, 2007

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