Rats, Mice and even Rabbits damaging plants and fruit
No, I am not talking about politicians or politicians swallowing rats! I am actually writing mainly about rats. I for one do not like rats, I apologise to all rat lovers but growing food and rats don’t mix. I have been in disbelief at how many rodents I have encountered recently. Many companies will be doing a roaring trade selling rat bait. Just yesterday (Thursday 17th) two rats almost ran over my feet while visiting a greenhouse. Two weeks ago, at another property, a rat taunted me and stared me down! I have heard of a cucumber crop that had rats climbing up the stems and biting into every stem fruit!
I will never forget many years ago, walking through my greenhouse, watching a mouse being chased by a rat! I had never seen anything like it. Rats cause large amounts of damage including eating fruit, chewing through wires and blocking up drains. The only way to temporarily eradicate rats, and I say temporarily as they always come back, was to set bait stations, snap traps and live traps. Live traps were particularly difficult because you then have to dispose of the rat, but these worked much better than the snap traps with a high percentage catch rate. During the 1990’s we temporarily adopted my sisters’ cats, for several years, while she was on her overseas experience. While we had the cats, I can’t recall ever seeing a rat or mouse in or around the greenhouse it was only when they left, I started having issues with rodents again.
A few days ago I witnessed them live in action, courtesy of a live camera I am connected to with one of the growers I advise to. I decided to have a nosey in the evening, unbelievably the first thing I saw staring back at me was a great big rat. When I rotated the camera, it must’ve spooked the rat and it ran off. I messaged the grower and the next day he purchased bait. One option is to purchase the donut type bait that you thread steel wire through and secure it around posts. (cover photo) Rats also like to feed in pipes, I would thread wire through the pipe with the bait to make sure the bait could not be carried back to the rat’s den. It is important the rats eat the bait and don’t carry it for storage otherwise they won’t eat it straight away.
Baiting is probably the best option to supress rats. I live by a small native area and I regularly bait the boundary of my property. The reason I don’t have a cat is the bird population in the reserve. However, I do believe that not having a cat does mean I will be forever having issues controlling rodents.
It is hard to put a figure on how much rats cost growers but be assured it will most likely be more if you don’t do anything about them. They are very destructive and if left alone will multiply quickly. Setting up baiting stations is a good option. Doing it correctly is also important to ensure effective control.
Believe it or not the top of this cucumber plant was eaten by a sneaky rabbit that got into the greenhouse!
Tying the bait up will force the rodent to eat at the source.