Frickin' tree rats

westoh Z6July 8, 2011

I have a few orchids and other plants hanging in a paper bark birch, it provides great dappled light...

Little bugger tree rats destroyed my Den unicum, broke 2 new growths at the base, and 2 mature growths about 1/4" up from the base. Looks like it tried to eat them.... So after the luncheon, one healthy mature cane and 1 old 'dead' cane. Also hammered a night blooming cereus with 10 buds, but at least the buds survived. I only have a stan and the cereus in the tree now, the rest are protected on some stands near the house.

Dog ain't helping, where's the gun :-) I actually have this problem every year, but sometimes you just gotta vent. Will get worse when they start burying nuts, but at least they usually just dig in the 'potted' plants with that behaviour.

I feel better now...


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For a few years, I drilled small holes and hung all the "free" CDs that AOL, etc. used to send. The flashing alarmed them and repelled them for awhile. They do invariably attack the rarity that is just getting new growth when in delicate condition.
If you like Cajun food, with a dozen you can make a nice sauce piquant.
Regards - Nancy

Here is a link that might be useful: All Squirrels Must Die!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 8:55AM
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You cannot allow them to be around, they will continue to destroy plants. I have rat traps which look like mouse traps on steroids which I bait with peanut butter, peanuts and dog food. Even though they are vegetarians they do go for it. Cheese does not seem to attract them. Rat poison does not seem to work. Unfortunately I have caught as many birds as rats in this set-up, collateral damage I guess. They seem to come in families, I'll kill about 5 or 6 and then nothing for a while until I see damage again.

Squirrels are just as big a problem, I had a family of them causing problems last year. They are easier as they find nuts irresistible, a medium sized animal trap works, catches them alive. I don't kill them, just take them for a one way trip as far away as possible. They are so cute when running around the neighborhood but are hissing, clawing, snarling little monsters when in the cage.

The other animal problem I had was some neighborhood cat (never did identify the owner, maybe it was feral) which insisted on coming over all the time. When the dogs chased it away, pots, plants and tags went flying all over the place. With 2 large, but relatively dumb (compared to the cat) dogs ready to kill it, why it insisted on coming over all the time is still a mystery to me. I also caught it in the same animal trap and took it to the Santa Barbara Orchid Fair a few year ago. I hear it likes SB! I never heard about it, the owner probably thinks Fluffy went to kitty heaven.

I classify orchid pests by counting the legs.

No legs: Snails, slugs, easily controlled except Bush snails which can be a pain.

2 legs: Humans, a pain sometimes but no real problem. The biggest problem was a city inspector who made me modify my greenhouse, something to do with building codes. Traps, sprays etc don't work.

3 none: Maybe aliens (ET) but they don't seem to like orchids.

4 legs: mice, rats, squirrels, cats, dogs, go for traps, squirrels are good to eat.

8 approx: insects, sprays of various kinds work to them. Grasshoppers are a night mare.

Many legs: Caterpillars etc, hard to get rid off. I attack any butterflies, moths etc that come around. They all lay eggs.

I love all of God's little creature, mostly when they are dead if they choose to bother my orchids.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 9:57AM
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highjack(z6 KY)

Bob is there any way you can put containers of moth balls around your plants. Most animals hate the smell, including snakes.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 11:05AM
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Bob, I successfully used a Hav-A-Hart trap years ago. I still keep it ready in my shed. Whenever I caught one, I released it (live!) in a very nice, non-denominational cemetery down the road apiece. If the squirrel was unhappy, there was a Catholic cemetery across the road. I doubt if the cemeteries' resident squirrels appreciated my contribution to their poopulation. They couldn't argue; they existed on consecrated ground!

Eventually, I had very few intrusions since I carted all of the miscreants elsewhere. I had a fox terrier who sorta kept the varmints beyond the fences which was fine. Of course, there was the occasional, screwball squirrel which would sneak into my shed and "plant" a walnut or three every year, just to spite me. I had a perfectly gentle chipmunk who maintained the shed along with a house wren. The fox terrier is no longer with us due to myasthenia gravis and its complications.

A "seasoned" hunter now patrols my vast manor/estate property, a greyhound who was "retired" from the Florida tracks and sent north to Maryland with the proviso that he enjoy Maryland sans testicles. The greyhound doesn't "bother" catching the local fauna. He exerts his influence by his mere presence. The tree rats aren't even seen any longer. I had two previous greyhounds. Same scenario, except that the female was a relentless killer of ALL wildlife within her domain!

Anyway, get a trap! It works!!


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 12:21PM
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I have zero tolerance for tree-rats which includes squirrels. Last year a very large Epi raniferum got devastated. A rat chewed off every one of it's 7 new growths. It ignored the old ones and only snaked on all of the new ones. It took the plant an entire year to recover.

I try to kill them as soon as I detect their presence. There is no other way.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:24PM
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"In America we must make doubly sure no [tree rat] is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit, so we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction.
Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because [tree rats] on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side."

So said our glorious President during His inaugural address to His beloved Nation of followers.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 7:52PM
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westoh Z6

Actually there are dozens of squirrels (and rabbits, foxes, racoons, deer, etc..) in my immediate neighborhood, lot's of mature oaks with acorns and some nearby woods.

They are frustrating, but I look at them as a necessary evil to live in a fairly non-urban area.

30 or so years ago I would have taken the:'They're good fried with gravy and potatoes route', but big city livin' has changed me a bit in the last 25 years :-(


    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 6:46AM
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Squirrels ARE good to eat, that's why they go to heaven. Angels need to eat too.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 10:41AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Yes, tree rats are a problem for the entire nation, but keep in mind their behavior is the result of a lifestyle choice. It's not natural.

According to presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann:

"If you're involved in the [tree rat] lifestyle, it's bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement." - then Senator Michele Bachmann, speaking at EdWatch National Education Conference.

Tree rats if given the proper therapy could be changed. Grated we couldn't change their physical appearance, but we could change their destructive lifestyle. Maybe we could (again with therapy) convince them to act more like Robins or Bluebirds? Who knows?

I'm sure Rep. Bachmann would support this effort and if elected president, spare no federal funds to establish clinics across the country where we could finally deal with the national tragedy of tree rat behavior and change them once and for all. It's my understanding her husband has a clinic doing exactly this RIGHT NOW.

Just think of the possibilities for 2012.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 11:35AM
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You know, call it a guilty it what you will, but I save any post that has the word or words "Tree rat" in it for last. To savor if you will, let it roll around the mental pallet, and focus only on it. To peel back it's many multi-faceted layers....and just enjoy.....

I have no problems with said "tree rats" in the back part of the yard because I have a 170 lb. delicate flower Mastiff (that by the by just kicked the Pitbull's butt next door). She had to save her boyfriend, who the Pitt was going after, The Great Farting Martini Puggle extraordinaire. Oh did I mention my 5 yr old daughter was right next to him! But I'm not trying to start a trash Pittbulls thread.

Anyway...the back part is skwerl free, but as soon as I click the "submit" button all the skwerls in the hood will converge on my front yard where I keep the orchids in the summer time and devour every one of them! But so far nothing has really bothered any plants up

p.s. I can hear them making that clicking sound and swishing their tails, they know I'm getting ready to click the button!!! It's like they're getting ready for the Boston Marathon.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:32PM
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I would have to disagree with most of you here. Being a vegetarian and animal rights advocate, I appreciate squirrels. In fact, I have a family of squirrels that live in my trees. They never bother my plants. The most they do is each seeds that fall from the trees.

I hypothesize that is the hatred towards the squirrels that cause them to rebel and attack your plants, house, etc. Perhaps a little compassion can go a long way.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 2:39PM
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That's why I belong to PETA. (People who eat tasty animals). Just like Jorge Dubya was a compassionate conservative, I am a compassionate carnivore.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 2:55PM
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the analyst "I would have to disagree with most of you here. In fact, I have a family of squirrels that live in my trees. They never bother my plants. The most they do is each seeds that fall from the trees"
Really....come on...

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 6:44PM
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I suffered an attach last night. 2 canes of a Dend amabile were chewed off and several pots of Cattleyas kocked over. Just the chewed off canes would make me suspect a rat but they are not big enough to knock over pots. Catt? Skwerrl? Catt chasing rat? I'll put out a medium size animal trap tonight baited with meat, peanut butter and veggies. I'll also set a rat trap baited with peanut butter.

What ever I catch is either going to heaven or on a long one-way trip even if it's a neighborhood cat. Even a well meaning owner cannot control or train a cat. Once they get a taste of orchids, they have to go. I don't have my Burmese Python anymore, it got too big so I gave it away. I know skwerrls are good to eat, how about cats?


    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 8:55PM
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gardenbear1(6 Ma.)

All I can say is Squirrel beware crazy Chihuahua on duty she will sneak up behind a squirrel and grab it by the tail, there no barking to warn them, she one crazy dog but no squirrels in the yard now

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Change in plan: If Fluffy ends up in the trap,I certainly don't want to deprive some neighborhood kids of their pet. So, I need to return the cat to it's owner but make sure it never comes back.

I think 24 hours of living hell should make kitty think twice about returning. Repeated drenching with cold water, repeated barking and snarling by 2 large dogs (without physical contact), me yelling, hissing and otherwise expressing my displeasure and any other torture I can think of should result in the worst 24 hours in this cat's life. Can you water board a cat? Then without a scratch on him, he or she will be allowed to return to the family home.

If I do this right, Fluffy will never return. I'm really enjoying myself just thinking about this! All the weapons are out there, the medium animal trap, rat traps, mouse traps and sticky boards. Bait includes chicken meat, peanut butter, cheese, dog food and vegetable matter. No living thing will go in this valley of tears and get away! Any other suggestions to drive home the point?

You may think I'm over reacting but look up Dendrobium amabile. What beautiful inflorescences it makes. I have 3 on the way on 2 canes. The plant has about 15 canes and the perpetrator chewed off 2. Luckily not the ones with the spikes but if more snacking takes place tonight, who knows what will go next.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 11:53PM
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westoh Z6

ginnibug: :-), :-), :-)

Nick: That hippocratic oath doesn't apply to all mammals I see, te he...

Kev: Seems like a strange subject on which to go political. Were you watching Fox Saturday morning :-)

For the most part they don't bother me and I enjoy watching the dog try to catch them adn tehm runing the trees, but every now and then I really want to pull out a shotgun or .22 and get even with the little buggers.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 7:35AM
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The heavy artillery has been out there for 3 days and all I caught was a little mouse! There is no way that mouse could have chewed off the 2 canes and knocked over the pots. Anyway, one less mouse, I'm sure there are 50 more where that one came from.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 9:46PM
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westoh Z6

I saw where one of the little fellers had been hit by a car the other day, I had mixed emotions as I drive by and swerved to make sure :-)


    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 1:59PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

"Kev: Seems like a strange subject on which to go political. Were you watching Fox Saturday morning :-)"

Nope. Just responding to the other attempt to go political - very childish on my part I admit, but I was in a mood, so what the he$$.

Personally I believe all political talk should be banned from places like this. Actually I think that's strongly suggested in the GW rules, but I haven't checked them in a while. Anyway, political talk, religious talk = one of the best ways to kill a forum IMO.

Tree rat talk and solutions to tree rat problems can also become a bit too much for some folks. In our distant past I can remember at least one thread being yanked from the forum, but that was in the days when Spike was in charge.

All my orchids are in a squirrel proof cage, so no more problems for me. I built a new one this spring, so I'm set.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 2:42PM
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only yards from my orchids, a new squirrel nest is being established on a neighboring property, post-haste! These buggers look pretty stocky, too!

I'm not concerned. My mutthound from South Carolina and my greyhound from Florida are on patrol, from before sunrise! I will back them up with a hav-a-hart trap. It has been outside for a couple of years, soaking in the the neighborhood smells. I haven't yet met a squirrel which can resist fresh tomato. I know, a terrible waste. For the cause of protecting my orchids, I will sacrifice an extra fruit or three.

One of my previous greyhounds knew how to protect the property. She nailed every stinkin' rabbit that even *thought* about entering my tomato patch! :)


    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 3:11PM
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Persistence pays off. Got 2 big adult rats last night. Raises questions about their behavior and feeding habits.

July 9 they invaded my greenhouse and feasted on one plant only. Sine then tasty treats were offered but ignored as were additional plants. 7 days later they show up again and go for 2 baited traps. The greenhouse obviously is not part of their regular feeding area, they must live somewhere else and only occasionally forage in the GH. They were a male and a female, did they have a litter before they went to rat heaven?

I'm going to keep the baited traps out for some time in case there are more. It is said of mice that for every one you see, there are 50 you don't see. These guys are bigger and occasionally I have seen them running on the power lines, I don't think there as many around as there are mice or we would see more damage. But it does drive home the point that the moment you see rat damage, a concentrated effort has to be made to eradicate them.

I love all of God's little creatures, but some I love less. I'm glad it was not Fluffy, that would have created a horrible dilemma.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 9:28AM
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