Composting Worms Are Dead

My composting worms are dead. I learned a difficult lesson about composting worms and rabbit urine. I have always said that worms love rabbit poop. And composting worms are also manure worms. If you have a pile of manure then you will have composting worms.

In the past, I would add some rabbit poop pellets to the worm composting bin. The worms would devour it. I got this rabbit poop from Ebay. The poop pellets were always dried first and maintained their shape. They also never had an odor. So the seller, somehow, separated the urine from the poop.

Last spring I collected rabbit poop from a breeder. Everything was mixed in–poop, urine, wood shavings and rabbit hair. I added a lot to my garden with good results. I had some left over and it had morphed into one mass instead of the poop being in separate pellets.

I decided that the worms would do a good job aerating it and separating it out instead of having this smelly mass of rabbit poop etc. So I added some worms and more finished compost from my compost pile.

They were not very quick to disburse. They stayed mostly in their huddled mass. I had a light on them so I didn’t understand this. Some worms were flipping out like when they don’t like the light. I would describe that as gyrating their body a lot. So I covered them and checked them an hour or two later.

Composting Worms Are Dead in the New Bin

They had spread out somewhat but they looked very unusual. None of them were moving–the composting worms are dead! I was totally shocked. Nothing like this had ever happened before.

After some research on the internet I found that:

  • Worms don’t like ammonia and this definitely smelled like ammonia.
  • Worms don’t do well with the salts in rabbit urine.
  • I needed more carbon in the bin such as shredded newspaper or wood shavings to balance out the high nitrogen in the manure.

Check this link for more information on rabbit urine.  My big question is why did they burrow down into the compost. Why didn’t they try to escape? Worms are famous for escaping the worm bin. If conditions are not right they just leave. See the video below. Maybe they were trying to locate themselves in the compost part of the mixture and the ammonia was just too much for them.

I certainly learned a lesson from this painful experience. If you are going to use rabbit poop use the dried pellets that you can get on Ebay. I would be interested in any comments or experiences people have had with this situtation. Please email me:

Contact SandieAnne