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Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

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Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  AZDYJ2K on 6/20/2010, 5:59 pm

Does anyone use small animal litter and droppings in their compost piles? My kids have 2 gerbils and 2 hamsters and they clean their cages each week. While not substantial I'd say there is probably half a cubic foot of litter. Of course it has urine and droppings from the animals but thought that it would probably be okay to use. The bedding we use for them is called Carefresh pet bedding and is made from white cellulose fibers. The bag says it's free from inks, dyes, clays and chemicals.

Let me know if any of you compost your soiled small animal litter. Thanks.
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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  Retired Member 1 on 6/20/2010, 7:46 pm

Although I've never had hamsters or gerbils, I wouldn't hesitate to compost their litter and manure. I can't see where it would be any different than composting rabbit or poultry manure. Just make sure to add in enough "browns" to offset the "green" of the manure.

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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  Chopper on 6/20/2010, 9:59 pm

I think the rule of thumb is if it is a meat eater, don't compost and if it is a vegetarian, it is ok.

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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  Shoda on 6/20/2010, 10:05 pm

My kids also have small pets. (3 pet rats and a rabbit) They used to use Carefresh and I have tossed it into the compost bin. It breaks down nicely. Since there is a lot of green matter in our bins (i.e. grass clippings) the animal bedding adds some brown matter and balances the bins. Because the animals are vegetarians, the urine and droppings are fine, too.

Recently I switched the animals to pine chips because of the cost and we toss those in the compost bin also. They also break down in case you ever want to (or need to) use them.
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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  cansaskgard on 6/20/2010, 10:22 pm

Good to hear I wasn't the only one.

I also use their litter (veggie eaters also - rats and guinea pig). It's is too bad about my ferrets though... heavy meat eaters.
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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  AZDYJ2K on 6/21/2010, 1:08 am

Thanks for the feedback all. I am really in need of some brown for my compost so it sounds like the bedding should do nicely for that. BTW, their droppings are so small that it probably only makes up a few percent of the total volume of the soiled litter. My kids just cleaned the cages...looks like I will have to do some digging in the trash for that now.
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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  Odd Duck on 6/21/2010, 9:42 am

Shoda,

If you're using wood shavings to hold costs down, at least use aspen instead of pine. The pine has enough volatile oils that it can cause significant respiratory problems in the critters. I really strongly recommend the recycled paper bedding, but you can supplement the purchased stuff with your own shredded newspaper. Expect the "kids" to get some ink staining, though.

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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  PeggyC on 6/21/2010, 10:55 am

cansaskgard wrote:Good to hear I wasn't the only one.

I also use their litter (veggie eaters also - rats and guinea pig). It's is too bad about my ferrets though... heavy meat eaters.

I've read about having a dedicated worm composting bucket for meat-eater poo, including human poo! (eww, gross) I bet you could do that for the ferret poo, if you really want to...
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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  LaFee on 6/21/2010, 11:14 am

I think the general consensus is that carnivore poo is best kept away from edible crops, composted or not, because of the possibility of parasites and/or some pretty vicious microorganisms.

Worm composting is not hot enough to kill anything...so poo on your flowers or shrubs might (might!) be okay, but I'll pass on putting it on my food production, thanks.

(what are the culprits in the last few years? lettuce...spinach...cilantro...all contaminated by e. coli bacteria..all of which has been traced to sewage, either animal or human)

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Re: Hamster/Gerbil Litter and Droppings for Compost

Post  Shoda on 6/21/2010, 5:11 pm

We don't have aspen trees in California so I doubt there will be shavings available. The shavings we are trying don't smell like anything in particular. I will have to double check on the variety of tree they come from. Maybe I am wrong. I know they are NOT cedar -- I knew about that one.

Thanks for the input.
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