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Old August 31, 2019   #1
bower
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Default Rats!

My lesson this year: something rats like as much as tomatoes is... grains!
Trying out barley this year and produced some beautiful heads in spite of the cold weather and extra short season. They were just starting to blush a gorgeous red, and I was thinking I should harvest soon, but too busy with work and away all day for a week... Then I went out and discovered every single head from both patches had been taken. It was such a clean job I knew it couldn't be moose, and I reckoned it must've been humans. I was standing at the window complaining about that to a friend, and looking straight at that bed when before my eyes I see a large RAT climbing up the pea trellis and down the other side into the barley.
Now who, besides a (really mean) human (too cheap to go buy a $2 bag of barley) would be so meticulous as to take every last grain I grew. Yes, the answer is... RAT.
And now the fun activity for the weekend will be.... routing rats from the compost pile. Yes, in my enthusiasm to create more compost and multiple piles, I had forgotten all about the dreaded rodent habitat issue. The more human housing gets built in this area, the bigger the problem. Before the building boom, I didn't see a rat here for 20 years. They developed the whole side of the hill above the river, and in the process drove the rats from their natural homes. It is far enough from water here that rats would never see it as a place to nest, except for being driven to it by default.

Or is it really just my own fault, for growing more vegetables?
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Old August 31, 2019   #2
GrowingCoastal
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No, not your fault! Once, I heard a lady blaming her neighbour's large garden for drawing rats. I was in a feed store buying, yes, rat bait. Another man said he had lost 30 lbs of tomatoes to rats. I think I lost only 1lb that year though there were a LOT of rats. A neighbour has been feeding the birds all seasons lots and lots of seed and that really is a rat draw.
But when construction started on a housing development about 1/4 mile away the rats also stopped coming through a ditch to our area. I did nothing different to my place or garden but there are just no rats at all, so far, this year. I can't think of any other change than the development. They may show up again when it starts to rain and they then come looking for a dry place.

I figure that the rats are either there or they aren't. All we can do is cope somehow. I did learn not to bait the garage as they would then nest near it. Now I put it out into a garden shed instead and put stored pots in plastic garbage bags to keep them clean as rats seem not to like plastic bags but will sit in the pots if not covered.
It has been a nice holiday from them this year.
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Old August 31, 2019   #3
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I put mesh bags around green tomatoes and they still ate through.
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Old August 31, 2019   #4
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I did the mesh bags last year too and they did not work though they did the year before! Someone here mentioned using the plastic bags that grapes etc come in so I tried those last year and had success with that. I put them on all the low trusses this year but there just are no rats. Better safe than sorry.
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Old August 31, 2019   #5
bower
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Last year I put chicken wire around the compost pile and was rat free. And is it ever nice to have a rat free year, good for you Coastal.

The thing about rats and water, unlike mice they require actual water to drink. This is why they're so often nesting on river banks, also why the first thing I had to do on realizing there is a rat, is to empty and turn over all the buckets, trays etc that were sitting around picking up rain water. Very careless about that and I know, it's a key thing they look for when choosing a place to nest. If the only water source is further away, they'll nest closer to that. I did find a young toad in one of my rain pans, and it makes me sad to leave no water for birds or dragonflies or friendlies but...

Trouble is of course we're now getting into rainier season and even last night a few puddles filled in the driveway. So I need to fix that too.
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Old August 31, 2019   #6
slugworth
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I need those bullet proof gloves chefs use to keep from cutting their hands.
I think they actually smell the tomatoes to find them.
Cucumbers close to the ground are ok knock wood.
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Old August 31, 2019   #7
VC Scott
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Rats love bird seed and rats love chicken mash. I lost a few tomatoes to rats this year but only t fruit low to the ground that had started to blush. With so many neighbors leaving bird seed and dog food out, my tomatoes aren't so attractive.

Here in California rats love to live in tall palm trees. Often, when a palm tree gets tall, the owner stops trimming the palm dead fronds. The old fronds just droop down and turn brown. This makes a perfect home for a rat. They build nests under the fronds. They are then safe from coyote, safe from hawks and owls, protected from wind and rain. If you ever chop down an old palm tree, you better be careful. When the tree hits the ground the rats run out.
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Old September 1, 2019   #8
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I will never see palm trees the same way. Interesting.
Ivy is another place they like to nest. Ivy leaves die and form layers underneath their vines creating nice dry places. Ivy is rats.
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Old September 1, 2019   #9
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Wow, that's something I never thought of, rats in trees.
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Old September 1, 2019   #10
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Yep Palm trees are truly a rat heaven for sure.
That natural look not trimmed is a home for many critters.
Whole colonies of them.
You could make a movie.

Palmtropolis Night of The Rats.

Staring the rat cast of Ratatouille.


At night you can see them ((Big Ones)) running up and down the trees.

As I have said here many times my neighbor lady has brought in more rats than you can imagine form that &^*% deer feeder.
I has all manner of seeds in it plus what we call sweet feed for cattle.
Sprayed with molasses, they really love that.
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Old September 1, 2019   #11
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I never thought about the palm trees and rats, yuck. I did know about the ivy and rats- people used to grow ivy up the brick places on the east coast especially, and they were rat warrens and rat highways. That plus the damage ivy itself can do to buildings over time.
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Old September 3, 2019   #12
Dewayne mater
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There is a post from a few years ago on here from a gardener in San Diego. She had such significant problems and all else failed, that they eventually built an screened structure for her gardens. It was kind of like a roofless pergola that was totally screened in from ground all the way over the roof. Depending on where you live and what your local population looks like, you may have to take desperate measures!
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Old September 3, 2019   #13
GrowingCoastal
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I have seen such a screenhouse in my area too. I thought it was for deer but maybe not!
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Old September 3, 2019   #14
rxkeith
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i had a rat problem one year back in the big city on account of a neighbor. he had beagles for rabbit hunting. the rats were getting fat off the dog food, and had a cozy place to stay in a junker car sitting in his yard. they wreaked havoc on my garden. i declared war, and set rat traps, and borrowed a live trap from someone, and kept them out, and baited until i stopped catching rats. they were either gone, moved on or got smart.

i have not seen any rats where i live now. we have field mice, deer mice, and voles galore out in the country. they have horse feed or chicken feed up and down the road to sustain them. they help keep the owl, and coyote population fed.
as long as the rodents stay outside, i leave them be. come in the house it's a quick death.
i bait a trap with a dried cranberry and a dab of peanut butter.

i have thought about getting a rat terrier or similar dog at different times for rodent control.



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Old September 3, 2019   #15
Worth1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxkeith View Post
i had a rat problem one year back in the big city on account of a neighbor. he had beagles for rabbit hunting. the rats were getting fat off the dog food, and had a cozy place to stay in a junker car sitting in his yard. they wreaked havoc on my garden. i declared war, and set rat traps, and borrowed a live trap from someone, and kept them out, and baited until i stopped catching rats. they were either gone, moved on or got smart.

i have not seen any rats where i live now. we have field mice, deer mice, and voles galore out in the country. they have horse feed or chicken feed up and down the road to sustain them. they help keep the owl, and coyote population fed.
as long as the rodents stay outside, i leave them be. come in the house it's a quick death.
i bait a trap with a dried cranberry and a dab of peanut butter.

i have thought about getting a rat terrier or similar dog at different times for rodent control.



keith
My first dog ever was a rat terrier.
Her name was Ginger.
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