Anyone who keeps rabbits will know that they produce a lot of droppings. Given that rabbits eat only vegetation you may be wondering if those little balls of droppings can be used as an organic fertilizer.
So, can you put rabbit litter in compost? Rabbit litter can go straight into the compost bin, on the heap or in a compost tumbler. It will fit in well with any composting system.
Depending on how ‘into rabbits’ you are, it appears that they are capable of producing a significant amount of rabbit droppings. One doe (female rabbit) together with her young will apparently produce over 1 ton of droppings in one year. We shouldn’t be too surprised about this. When ever we see rabbits they are almost always eating. This is why wild rabbits need to be kept under control.
I find it most irritating to think that a doe and her entourage could easily convert a well-tended vegetable garden into a ton of rabbit droppings. A good fence will be needed at all times if you have rabbits around you, managed or wild.
As with any droppings that have been through the digestion process, rabbit droppings are compact pellets of finely chewed, broken down fibres of vegetation.
When added to compost, that’s already being formed, it will quickly disintegrate and become lost in the mass that’s to become your finished compost.
Every component of rabbit litter will contribute to compost. The bedding for rabbits can be sawdust, shredded paper or straw. This will break down but may need watering as dry material won’t rot. In most cases there will be enough moisture in a compost bin to become absorbed into any added rabbit litter.
Is rabbit waste good fertilizer?
To get the best from rabbit dropping waste you need to convert it to compost. That isn’t to say that if you scatter rabbit waste over the lawn, as a fertilizer, that it won’t have an effect. You just won’t see any change for a while.
Fresh rabbit waste, when spread around, will break down in its own time. It will then release nutrients that plants can make use of. It has a reasonably high measure of nitrates which will become evident if you apply too much in a focused area. You need to be careful with high-nitrate waste as it has a tendency to kill grass. If you see where rabbits in the wild have deposited high concentrations of droppings on grass, very often this will create bare patches because of the excess of nitrates. These bare patches will also be as a result of additional rabbit urine.
Can you compost rabbit urine?
If you have access to rabbit urine you can put it on the compost just like any other urine. Be aware that all urine, from whatever source, is high in nitrates. This will need to be balanced with carbon-browns for compost to form. You must avoid too much of an excess of nitrates from whatever source. Used bedding material from a rabbit hutch will often be enough to interact with the amounts of urine that you are thinking of.
This should provide enough of the carbon-based ‘browns’ that will be needed to balance the nitrates in the urine. If the material in the mix looks wetter than you would like, then add some shredded paper or pieces of cardboard to soak up the excess.
Will rabbit poop kill my lawn?
It would take a considerable amount of rabbit poop to kill the grass on the lawn. If you spread it too thickly on the grass, there may be an adverse reaction. This is assuming that you are spreading rabbit droppings that come from a rabbit enclosure and you want to use it as a fertilizer on the lawn.
If your concern is that you have a number of rabbits that have access to a large lawn area and you are considering any impact that this may have from their droppings killing the grass, there should be no need to worry. Provided that they have a large enough lawn area to move around, there shouldn’t be any serious concentrations that can cause damage.
The only adverse impact that rabbits may have on a lawn will be when a group decide to deposit droppings, concentrating on one small area. It can be made worse when urine is deposited at the same site. Concentrations of urine will kill lawn grass. Rabbit urine will kill patches of lawn grass more than rabbit poop.
Rabbit manure tea for hydroponics
You can make manure tea from most manures. Most of the nutrients in solid rabbit manure are soluble and, therefore, will make a ‘tea’ which is ideal for hydroponics. When in solution they are much more mobile and can easily be absorbed into any plant root system. Making tea from manure is quite simple. You just need to put some manure droppings in a bucket and add water. You need to add enough manure to colour the water. Leave it to soak for a couple of hours then give a stir. Leave it for a day to allow solids to settle out then drain off the liquid.
This can then be used as a liquid plant feed. It can be used on plants in the garden or in a greenhouse. It can also be fed into a hydroponic plant-growing system. Using manure tea for hydroponic growing of plants may seem like a better and more natural method for feeding the plants but there is a downside to doing this.
When we prepare the manure tea by dissolving it in water, it’s difficult to manage the concentration levels enough to know the actual nutrient levels of the solution. If we don’t make the solution strong enough it may have the appearance of being strong but it may not have enough of the required nutrients that the plants need.
On the other side, if the solution is too strong, then we will have a problem with the plant’s root system being exposed to excesses of nutrients. Getting the right balance is tricky. If there aren’t enough nutrients the plants will look plain and spindly. If the solution is too rich in nutrients the plant won’t be able to process it fast enough. The roots will be trapped in the solution which, if it isn’t diluted, will possibly kill the plants.
If a solution is too weak or too strong, it’s going to be very difficult to make the required adjustments of either dilution or strengthening. Furthermore if either is attempted, it would be difficult to assess just how much more dilution or strengthening is being achieved without involving complicated solution measuring equipment.
This is why manufactured plant-feeds are preferred for hydroponic systems. They can be measured with precise accuracy when preparing a solution. There is no guessing, the plants get enough of everything they need and never too much.
Does rabbit feces carry disease?
This is way outside my remit. So, I’ve had to consult sources that can offer an answer.
There appears to be very little risk of contracting, what is known as, zoonotic diseases from rabbit droppings or urine. The parasites that rabbits can carry are described as host-specific which means that they won’t affect humans. This is comforting to know because it means that tapeworms, nematodes and coccidia, which rabbits can carry, can’t be spread to us.
There are, however, parasites that you risk picking up through direct contact with rabbits. These can include fur mites and ringworm. Ringworm is a parasite that lives in the skin. It creates a ring shaped rash on the skin of the host. It’s often easy to see on any animal as it will create small bald patches where the hair or fur will, temporarily, stop growing.
Another thing to look out for is ticks. These are quite pronounced parasites that are easily spotted on any animal. They are essentially spiders which feed on the blood of the host. You will see them sticking out as a small grey sack that’s, actually, full of blood from the host. When they have had enough they will drop off and wait for the next host to come along.
They aren’t fussy, they will latch on to humans just like anything else. If, or when, they do there is a real risk that they will carry over diseases that their previous hosts where carrying. In the case of rabbits tularemia, another nasty skin rash that can cause fevers. A bite from a tick can cause lyme disease which can be either mildly or very debilitating. We have to assume that the same risk is there with fleas. Domestic rabbits can be treated for ticks and fleas.
How do you dispose of a dead rabbit?
For hygiene purposes the best thing you can do with any small dead animals, including a dead rabbit, is to bury it. Do this as soon as possible after the animal has died. Don’t delay as this can only lead to complications with a risk of disease and other unpleasant consequences.
Dig a hole that’s big enough to take the rabbit. Dig down to a depth of at least 16 inches. This will be down enough to dissuade predators from trying to get at it. Don’t put the dead rabbit in a plastic bag just leave it open for the elements. Before filling in with soil on top of the dead rabbit, cover it with a thin layer of white-lime. This will help to accelerate the natural decomposition process that needs to take place.
An alternative approach maybe to burn the dead rabbit. You need to know how to manage a fire extremely well to make this work. It needs to be a very hot fire, it’s no good trying to burn a dead rabbit on a fire that’s just smouldering and only producing smoke. If you don’t feel confident that you can create a hot enough fire to get rid of the remains completely then it’s probably safer to take the digging option.
What animal poop is the best fertilizer?
The best fertilizer will come from poop generated from any animals that are herbivorous, that is anything that eats only vegetation e.g. grass. Animals that eat just grass are, in a way, like lawn mowers. The difference is that they don’t just cut and eat the grass, they chew it into very small fibres then break it down through their digestive systems.
After taking out all the nutrients that they can, they expel what’s left over. The manure that’s generated will have many useful nutrients that can be extracted by natural decomposition. Some of these nutrients could have been used by the primary consumer but the digestive systems of many herbivores isn’t efficient enough to extract every spec of nutrient value that grass and other vegetation contains.
This is very convenient. What we have left is a thoroughly processed product that is ready to use as plant food. Some of this can be used straight away but it’s usually a better option to allow the manure to break down into compost before applying it as a plant feed or fertilizer.
Out of all the herbivores that conveniently produce manure, the best is, without doubt, are cows. This is probably due to the fact that cows put more effort into digesting food. When they eat grass they chew it and break it down before swallowing. The chewed grass goes into the rumen part of the digestive system. They then, bit by bit, pull it back up from the rumen and chew it again.
This is known as ‘chewing the cud’. Cows are often seen doing this. It’s not chewing-gum that there chewing, it’s grass that they’ve eaten earlier. Cows are known as ruminants. Which means that they have a number of stomachs and they regurgitate swallowed food to chew for a second time.
After the second chewing, the food is returned to another part of the digestive system where it’s broken down further. It then moves to yet another separate area where the digestion becomes more refined.
You may be wondering why the cow has such a complicated digestive system. Cows fall into the category of being ‘flight’ animals. They can’t defend themselves against predators. When they are eating grass they have their heads down, looking at what they’re eating. This is when they’re at their most vulnerable, so, they don’t want to be doing it for long periods of time.
There is an added problem. Most grasses, and forage generally, aren’t quickly and easily digested. So, the cow’s digestive system has evolved to be able to collect grass quickly, then, this food can be chewed again later when the cow has retreated to a safer place. It’s often taken as an indication that a cow is contented and feels safe when seen chewing her cud.
This is not a problem that affects rabbits. They can chew at a lettuce in the garden, taking all the time they want to digest it, as far as they can, in the certain knowledge that they will be quick enough to make it, at speed, to the nearest hole.
Will rabbit poop hurt my dog?
Dogs have a habit of picking up and eating almost anything. Unlike us, they seem to get away with doing this. Rabbit droppings are essentially vegetation. They contain the remains of the grass or lettuce leaf that the rabbit has eaten. There is no harm in this. It would almost be like the dog eating the grass or lettuce that the rabbit has already eaten.
Is rabbit poop harmful to humans?
For the same reason that rabbit poop is not harmful to dogs, they are not harmful to humans. It would not be wise to eat them! But if they come into contact with your skin there is no need to panic. Rabbit droppings are nothing more than natural vegetable waste. You can wash it of and forget about it.
Is rabbit manure good for fruit trees?
All manures are good for fruit trees. Rabbit manure is vegetable waste. It will rot down over time, releasing nutrients that a fruit tree, or any other plant can use as feed. The important thing here is that you mustn’t over-load the fruit tree with too much rabbit dropping waste as this will provide more nutrients than the tree can handle in one go. Add a little now and some later and the tree will benefit.