Query: This year for the first time my veggie plants are being eaten at night by mice/rats. My garden is fenced with gopher wire underneath but mice can squeeze through the tiniest of places as well as probably climb over the 5 foot fence.
I bought a Have a Heart cage and caught one about every night, but after relocating 10 of the fellows I see there is no end to them. They ate ALL my pea seedling, bean seedlings, chewing on my cucumbers. Also, the tomatoes are all that is left and they are now eating them -GREEN!!
Has your garden ever had this problem?? I will have to give up having my garden if I can’t find a solution. (The moth balls, cayenne pepper, owl statue – none of this works). Within my fenced area I have raised beds – one is 3 feet X 15 feet. The other two are 1 foot by 4 feet. I have had my garden four years with no problem until now.
My Reply: I’m so sorry, I hear your frustration, and I’ll bet there have been more than a few tears.
[If YOU have rat, mice problems, start taking care of it NOW! Some spread diseases, they all have children, starting at 2 months old, and so do their children. It’s an exponential problem, see? A wild rat can have 84 babies a year!]
Are you relocating the creatures far enough away? Relocating has its own issues. Please see Cornell’s IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Beasts Begone! Removing Animals.
Possibilities are to build fine-grid wire, 1/4″ hardware cloth, hoop covers for your raised beds that hinge attach (so you can swing them up to tend your veggies), and that clip tight to the bed tops when down. Use PVC, not gnawable wood frames. This will work for areas where your plants aren’t too tall.
- No access to warm compost piles – get the black plastic beehive type. No access to your garage, garbage, pet foods.
- Store garden amendments, especially bone meal, in rodent-proof containers.
- Keep cleaned up after your pet – they will eat that stuff.
- Clear away all debris and all piles, especially wood piles. What you keep, elevate 12” above ground.
- Clean up fallen fruit, nuts, cut seed pods and seed heads off your plants.
- Remove ivies and vining plants that provide climbing conduits up your trees and structures.
- Prune lower near-the-ground branches.
- Band trees or up areas so they can’t get up either – some rats nest in trees.
- Choose ground covers that don’t produce rodent food – edible seeds, fruit, or berries, or nesting materials.
- Use only rodent proof bird feeders, or none. No scattering seeds or food for the wildlife.
- Make it easier for birds of prey, owls. Remove unmanaged berry plants, brush near buildings, thickets, keep field grasses mowed – yours and nearby, neighbor’s. That reduces seed feed and nesting areas and materials.
- Plant native plants and mulch with fire approved amount and type of mulch to prevent seed bearing plants from growing.
- Per WSU gardening, take care of your structure:
– Repair any cracks or small holes in the foundations
– Repair broken windows and doors
– Repair broken sewers
– Seal any holes, where pipes or wires enter the building, with sheet metal collars or concrete.
– Repair screens and cover foundation vents with rodent proof screen material.
Put up an owl house.
Brass tacks. Maybe it’s time to just get mean, capital punishment! I thought I would never kill gophers, but not so anymore. We use kill traps and bury the dead in their tunnels to warn their friends, family and newcomers. They become underground compost. WSU Practical rat, mice trapping pointers
- If traps aren’t your choice, so far, I’ve not read any complaints about electronic zappers, though they are expensive, and battery operated. I personally don’t like that 30 to 40 seconds they take.
- Russell terrier dogs, a cat (we have a couple of cats at the Terrace), though some say cats aren’t effective, especially if the problem is already out of hand. How many can a cat catch and a dog dig?
- I would not use poisons since there are so many dangers, to children, pets, birds of prey. Sick animals can crawl off to die, sometimes in inaccessible structures. It’s smelly and causes insect problems.
Build or buy a secure greenhouse? (Tomatoes in the winter?! Yes!)
Has the county/extension told you why the population has exploded in your area? Has a food source or habitat increased dramatically – other than the veggies you are growing for them?!
The more remedies you use in concert, the more successful you will be.
My cousin has given up veggie gardening due to deer in her DC area except for one successfully deer-fenced area. Never give up! 🙂 Good luck, seriously. I would rather lose those critters than a gardener.
Next Friday, November Gardening, Shorter Cooler Days, Rich and Deep