Ok gardeners, I need some reassurance! I have been aware of some mice living under my compost container for some time. (it's actually an OLD raised wood flowerbed 2'x8'x1.5'h that was here when we moved in). This is my kitchen scrap compost that is located very close to my back door and sits against my house so mice are a concern. I have tried a few things to scare them off but short of poisoning them I can't get rid of them. I really don't want to put any poison out for multiple reasons ie. my toads & skinks live back there too, dogs are outside, poison is slow and inhumane IMO etc.
So yesterday I decided to flood the tunnels that run under the bin to flush them out. When that didn't do anything, I decided to empty the entire thing and really "get to the bottom of things". Turns out this thing has a bottom or what's left of one. I tore that out too and TaaDaaa... Mice! I caught two fat adults and removed all their nesting materials. Boy, had they been busy. Yuck!
Now here's where it gets crazy. As I'm finishing up refilling my compost bin, I notice a little grey nose poke out from behind some cardboard boxes I've been saving leaned up against the house. So I have my dog block one side and I slid a box over the other opening then scared the thing into the box... Well.. pardon me but Damn! Had I known what I had just coerced into a box I think I would have done things differently! As in just walked away! This is what I caught...
Here is where I need some comfort/confirmation. After reading and identifying this rat, I have learned this species (Hispid Cotton rat) carries the Hantavirus. This virus is airborne and can be contracted by ingesting urine, or fecal matter, or inhaling it by disturbing the bedding material! Oops! Hopefully I won't come down with "flu-like" symptoms in the next week, but I'm concerned about this rat having been inside my compost bin over and over. The actual compost won't be ready to use until next season but is that long enough, can I still plant veggies in it? Will nature kill anything "bad" in there? I mean, we wash our produce (well, unless I eat it directly out of the garden! Eek!) I feel like I'm being paranoid but then again I don't really want the plague or any of the other virus or bacteria these things carry.. Surely everyone has had a rodent or two in their compost bin, right???