Does Cocoa Mulch Attract Rodents? (No, But It’s Quite Complicated)

Cocoa mulch is a byproduct of the cocoa used in many different foods and drinks. Specifically, it comes from the husks of the cocoa beans once processed.

The greatest benefit that cocoa mulch offers is its amazing ability to retain water and help reduce and control weed growth. This allows growers to avoid herbicide usage altogether.

But, does cocoa mulch attract rodents as well?

Well, the scent of cocoa mulch does not attract rodents to be honest. But, it offers some other handy benefits (like moist environment etc.) which can attract rodents and other similar animals for sure.

The Cocoa Mulch enriches the soil and lasts much longer than many other mulch types. However, there are downsides, such as the potential to attract a range of certain pests. These include rodents, insects and other bugs.

The decomposing coverage produces a ton of small edibles for these vermin.

Does cocoa mulch attract rodents

Not to mention creating a cool habitat in the warmer months due to the humidity that the retained moisture produces.

In this article, our detailed overview and guidance on this topic aim to help those concerned about using cocoa mulch in their garden.

What are the Two main Types of Mulch?

When it comes to mulches, there are ultimately 2 forms or types. These are organic and inorganic. Let’s look at what they are, how they are made and how they are best used in the garden. 

Organic Mulch

Organic mulches are created using natural materials. These generally include anything that can be picked up off the ground as they are left there via a natural shedding process.

These materials include slowly blended compost mixes, leaves, pine needles, tree barks, wood chips, straws, nutshells, etc.

The benefits of using organic mulches over inorganic ones far outweigh the drawbacks.

Organic Mulch

Organic mulches offer good water retention as they soak in moisture and hold it in place. They also restrict evaporation which traps moisture for longer periods. Additionally, the decomposing materials help improve soil fertility and increase overall soil quality. 

Their biggest issue is the lifespan of each added amount. As they decompose and give the plants all the good stuff, the supply diminishes, which requires consistent mulch replacement.

Another potential issue is that the decomposing materials attract rodents, bugs, insects, etc. This can lead to reproduction and the continual growth of unwanted pests. 

Inorganic Mulch

In extreme contrast to organic mulch, the inorganic materials include artificial or processed resources such as pulverized tires, plastic, sheet insulation or solid sheets of ground fabric (geo-fab).

Unlike organic mulches, these materials will not decompose. Therefore, they will not add any extra nutrients to the growing area. Meaning they cannot alter the soil composition or increase the quality.

The upsides to using inorganic mulches include:

  • Providing adequate insulation to regulate soil temperature and moisture.
  • Resisting weeds.
  • Preventing soil erosion and retaining moisture.

Additionally, their lifespan is a lot longer as they do not decompose or decay. This also helps to reduce the risk of pests colonizing above the ground and around plant bases.

But it may give underground insects such as termites a home to feel protected in as they will not have to endure the decompose, reapply cycle that organic mulch presents. 

What is Cocoa mulch?

Cocoa mulch is an organic mulch produced using the hulls or shells of cocoa beans.

The beans are removed and used to make chocolate products; the hulls are packed and sold as a high-quality water retentive mulch.

They contain vital nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium and have a slightly acidic pH of 5.8, which is great for certain plant species.

What is Cocoa mulch

Not only are they extremely effective, but they also smell amazing when used in a garden. This type of mulch gives off a sweet chocolaty aroma.

The smooth velvet-like smell alone won’t attract rodents, but the retained moisture can allow certain rodent foods, such as insects and bugs to set up a shelter in that gardening area. 

Does cocoa bean mulch attract animals?

The sweet aroma of the cocoa mulch will draw in neighbors who may think you’re having a bake off. Also, house pets can become fixated on the smell, although, as dogs and chocolate don’t mix, it’s advised to keep dogs away from areas where this mulch is used.

Does cocoa bean mulch attract animals

Other animals may be attracted to the scent, but smaller rodents focus more on the food source that the excess moisture which the mulch provides can bring in.

Does Cocoa Mulch Attract Rodents?

The scent of the cocoa mulch alone will not attract rodents. Sure, it could pique some interest, but the mulch offers some other handy benefits for rodents. Firstly, the moisture the mulch retains attracts smaller insects and bugs for the rodents to feed on.

This moist environment also produces humid conditions around the base layer of a garden, which these smaller food options use as their playing and breeding ground. When the mulch decomposes into the soil, the resulting food source is much appreciated by all insects and bugs.

Therefore, rodents have an abundance of snacks right at their fingertips, and they don’t have to go elsewhere as the bugs can regenerate quite fast.

Lastly, the camouflaging capabilities that the mulch has can help smaller rodents hide away from their predators. They can easily burrow under a few inches of the mulch and disappear until the coast is clear again.

Why Does Cocoa Mulch Sometimes Attract rodents?

Cocoa mulch can be utilized by a range of rodents that could be nesting and require some protection from larger predators. For example, species such as field mice and vole can build a small nesting area just below the surface, containing everything they need to produce offspring.

They have an abundance of food in the way of bugs and insects; they can also enjoy the cooler ground covering in, the warmer months. The problem with these rodents is that they have no specific food requirements and can end up munching on any plants.

Tips and Tricks: How to Apply Mulch Without Attracting Bugs and Rodents

You may be worried about using a product such as cocoa mulch because of the possibility of a rodent infestation. If this is the case, there are a few handy tips or tricks you can use to help reduce the risk. These include:

How to Apply Mulch Without Attracting Bugs and Rodents

Careful Layering

Try to avoid layering mulch more than 3 inches deep. If the mulch is too thick, it will leave the top dry and the bottom moist. If the bottom stays moist, it can leave the plant roots to bathe in the pooled water, causing root rot.

Root rot will not only kill the plant but also invite decaying plant loving insects and bugs. As a result, rodents will begin to hang around more often as their food sources are insects and bugs.

Over Watering

Making sure the right amount of water is applied is crucial. Too much water can cause the same domino effect as thick layered mulch. Root rot, insects and rodents. 

Under Watering

In contrast to excess moisture, too little water can also cause major headaches. Namely, the process of decomposing mulch can only occur with added moisture. So when mulch doesn’t get enough wet stuff, it has little to no effect.

As a result of long term water negligence, the plant will die, and again, bugs will suck the remains from the plant. Rodents will show up and feast on these bugs.

Benefits of Cocoa Mulch

There’s a reason why cocoa mulch has a higher price tag than most other mulches. It’s not only because it comes from the less abundant supply of cocoa beans. Moreso, its benefits are plentiful. Cocoa mulch is an extremely good quality material for retaining water via its husky composite that can soak in the water.

Additionally, it contains high amounts of all 3 key nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) and a pH of 5.8, which assists plants that need slightly acidic soil bases. It increases overall soil fertility and vitality. Lastly, it’s simply aesthetically pleasing for most planting areas. 

What to do if Cocoa Mulch gets moldy?

Cocoa mulch can form a mold that can be considered harmless. This occurs more often in hotter, humid climates. You can mix up a simple solution using 25 per cent water and 75 per cent white vinegar and add it to a sprayer bottle.

What to do if Cocoa Mulch gets moldy

Spray vigorously on the affected area and give it a few days before reapplying if necessary. You can also consider moving the mulch around if the amount of mold isn’t too much. Turn it over and spread it so it can dry out and other areas can become moist.

What kind of mulch keeps rats away?

When repelling rats, using mulches made from rubber composites is best. This material works so well for a few reasons. It won’t decompose. Therefore insects and bugs won’t hang around, eliminating a rat’s food source. It doesn’t suck in and retains water within the mulch, so the rat’s food source is cut off. Also, the rubber isn’t as easy for them to build a nest in. It’s heavier, and the often strong scent can deter them. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does cocoa mulch attract bugs?

Cocoa mulch can attract bugs when it becomes moist or is used in hot or humid climates. The decomposing materials mixed with the mulch can become an abundant food source for bugs and insects.

Are rats attracted to any kind of mulch?

Mulches that contain larger amounts of straw, wood chips and leaves can provide rats with adequate protection and a place to nest. Additionally, once the materials begin to decay and rot, bugs and insects will begin to feed on them. The rats see these as easy food sources. 

What are the types of Pest Resistant Mulch?

Materials such as cedar, melaleuca, or plastic mulch can help repel insects and/or bugs. The more inorganic types of mulch, such as rubber, plastic and fiber composites, don’t decompose, meaning the abundant food sources will almost cease to exist.


As we can see, cocoa mulch does attract rodents but does so via a knock-on effect. The mulch decomposes, and certain bugs and insects feed on the decomposing mulch. Then the rodents feed on the bugs and insects.

We hope that this article has been helpful, and we look forward to creating more just like this to help you on your gardening journey. As always, happy growing!

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