I thought agave sap was toxic

roselee z8b S.W. TexasApril 15, 2014

If agave sap is toxic how can squirrels get away with doing this?

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Toxic to humans is not the same as toxic to squirrels. Maybe one of your fellow Texans will chime in on how to protect your plants, I have never been able to outsmart squirrels and chipmunks.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 6:39PM
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ooww you need a bb or paintball gun or something. Those annoying things.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 7:15PM
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Squirrels are the worst! They will not respond to the deterrents that work for deer and birds. In my experience a physical barrier is the only thing that will work, but I have heard of people sprinkling soil with cayenne pepper -- when the squirrels move around the pepper acts like a dust and becomes airborne, getting in their eyes and up their noses. It certainly isn't pleasant but it doesn't harm them permanently. I have been afraid to try it for fear it will hurt my plants too, but it's an option!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:35PM
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GeeS 9b

Toxic? Some Agaves are high in sapogens, while others are not. Those that are not have traditionally been roasted and eaten by native Americans for centuries, not to mention used as fodder for mescal and pulque.

I've lost many a fine Agave to vermin. Welcome to the club, and sorry for your loss.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:38PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Cayenne should pose no threat to your plants Spapa.

As Dzit mentioned, just because something may be toxic to humans does not mean it is toxic to various animals. On a similar yet different note to further illustrate the point -- in order to deter squirrels from ransacking her bird feeders, my sis mixes a liberal quantity of ground cayenne pepper in her bird seed. Result is the squirrels leave it alone but the birds couldn't care less.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 11:34AM
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Stush2049 Pitts. PA, zone 6

That squirrel must be starving to eat an agave. Try feeding them nuts or seed. They keep putting the seed further away towards your least like friend. And presto, it becomes their problem. No, just kidding. Pepper works just fine.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 12:33PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

I guess more than anything I am surprised at the damage since I've never had them do this before, nor since, thankfully. I've had deer horn the agaves in the front yard, but I figured the irritating sap protected them from other kinds of critter damage.

I hope this was a one time event, carried out, as suggested, by a very hungry squirrel whose winter stash had run out although you'd think if the squirrels were hungry they'd munch on aloes, sedums, and such. Those plants were not touched.

Anyway I threw them some pecans. Next time I'll throw them in a neighbors yard so they will look over there fof sustenance instead of my place ... :-)

Thank you all for your replies! I believe the agaves will survive, but it will take a while to outgrow the damage. Next winter I'll be seasoning the young agaves with cayenne pepper.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 1:54PM
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GeeS 9b

Dunno how wet or dry it is at your digs, but here in the desert Agaves are attacked by a variety of vermin not as a source of food, but moisture. It will likely continue to occur until you either dispatch the vermin or remove said plants from the field of play.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 4:05PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Good thought, but it's not the water in this case. I keep the bird baths full. The squirrels have great fun chasing the birds away from them when they have a chance. But I don't feed the birds so the squirrels don't get the 'benefit' of bird seed to eat in the winter.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 5:09PM
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