What animal did this to my plants?

AvaLikeLavaMay 1, 2012

I have now replanted my tomatoes 3 times. THREE! All to end within a week looking like this:

I have a fence around my plants (green galvanized wire fencing) and this week-end also added poultry netting on top so that I'm eliminating access from the top... or so I'd like to think.

Yet my plans are now eaten down to stubs. Those little leaves you see here. Now gone.

There are no burrow holes as far as I can see. My zucchini plant is fine, although the basil got eaten too (last, but eaten). My wee little tomatoes that are getting the brunt of the buffet.

I had planted tomatoes last year, and they survived just fine. This is a new critter hanging out in my 'hood.

It's got to me a small animal if it can get through the galvanized wire on the side

What is eating my tomatoes?

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Thanks to Havahart´┐Ż for this guest blog post. This is useful info for all of the gardeners out there...learn how to keep those pesky little bunnies out of your garden -- safely and humanely.

Rabbits are cute, except when they're chewing your lawn bare or destroying your garden. They can quickly become a source of headaches for any homeowner or gardener.

Many build fences in attempt to keep rabbits out. However, what few realize is there is no rabbit-proof fence. Rabbits can breach just about any structure. Fencing should be considered a deterrent, not a fool-proof solution, for wild rabbits.

Rabbits are especially adept at getting past fences for two key reasons: they dig and they squeeze.

Although they spend much of their time above ground, rabbits build their homes underground. They have a natural tendency to burrow, which can compromise the integrity of any structure, such as walls and fences. And as anyone who ever experienced a rabbit problem in their yard knows, they multiply quickly.

Rabbits can also fit through openings that appear smaller than their bodies. They are able to squeeze themselves through very small holes, typically as small as 3". Most rabbits are able to fit their bodies through any hole that their head can fit through.

How to Build a Rabbit Fence

When building a rabbit fence, it's important to keep in mind how rabbits behave. An effective rabbit fence is made of a material that is resistant to chewing, positioned into the ground deeply enough so rabbits cannot dig under, is tall enough to deter rabbits from jumping over, and has no holes large enough for the rabbits to squeeze through.

When selecting fencing material, keep in mind rabbits will chew through just about any fence that is plastic, cloth, or wood. One material that is effective at deterring rabbits is chicken wire.

To address rabbits' digging behavior, be sure to ground your fence deeply into the ground. If your stakes will be about 2" wide, you'll want to form a perimeter by digging a trench about 6" deep and 8" wide. Then, on the inside of the trench, pound the stakes in and bend the bottom 6" of the chicken wire outward along the ground to form a letter "L" shape. Finally, set the end of the fencing into the trench with the flange pointing away from your garden.

Rabbits jump, so you'll want to make sure your fence is high enough. A 36" wide chicken wire will give you a 36" high fence. This should be high enough to keep the majority of rabbits from jumping over.

Since rabbits can squeeze their bodies through tiny holes, you'll want to get the stakes as close together as possible. It's recommended to keep stakes at 2" or smaller.

Once your rabbit fence is up, you need to check it regularly. From harsh weather to animal damage, the rabbit fence can be easily comprised. Once compromised, your garden is exposed to rabbit damage. Rabbit fences require regular maintenance to uphold the structural integrity.

Alternatives to a Rabbit Fence

Many gardeners prefer not to install fencing for aesthetic reasons. Chicken wire can deter from the beauty of a garden. Rabbit fences can become eyesores, ruining a once perfect landscape. And since rabbit fences require regular maintenance, they can be costly, in both time and money.

A rabbit repellent is an effective alternative to garden fences. There are rabbit repellents on the market today that are highly effective at keeping the unwanted animals away from treated areas.

Rabbit Repellent Improves the Effectiveness of Rabbit Fences Traditional rabbit fences are not foolproof. There is no rabbit-proof fencing. Fencing can help deter rabbits from entering an area, but do not offer 100% protection. Once a rabbit breaches a garden fence, substantial damage can be done to the plants. By using a rabbit repellent in conjunction with a rabbit fence, you are providing better protection from rabbit damage.

When choosing a rabbit repellent, you'll want to consider the following:
Economics (Cost)
Type of Ingredients
Small animals have a keen sense of smell, enabling them to detect potential predators and food sources. Therefore, the most effective rabbit repellents work by using scent to inflict a fear response from the animal. The smell is similar to that of a decaying animal, which rabbits recognize as a predator being nearby. They will flee the area out of fear. Before a rabbit even reaches your garden, the smell from the repellent will drive it away.

In addition, the most effective rabbit repellents deter other animals, such as squirrels. An area that is prone to rabbit damage is also likely to be damaged by squirrels. Choosing a product that addresses both is wise.

When considering cost, review the directions for reapplication instructions. Select a rabbit repellent that will last a long time. The top quality repellents last for 3 months before a reapplication is needed.

Avoid rabbit repellents that require reapplication after every rainfall, because they are both costly and time-consuming. While the top-quality rabbit repellents may have a slightly higher initial cost, they make up for this in convenience and the peace of mind they provide.

Finally, review the ingredient list. The most effective solutions for rabbits are those made with with egg. Putrescent egg mimics the smell of a dead animal, which rabbits will mistake as the smell of a nearby predator. In response to the smell, they flee the area in fear. While these solutions are very powerful to the rabbit senses, they have no detectable smell to humans once dried.

There are rabbit repellents that contain chemicals. When selecting a rabbit repellent, be a conscientious consumer and choose one that is natural and organic. By choosing an organic rabbit repellent, you'll be keeping your family, pets, and the environment safe from chemical exposure. To ensure the product is organic, check for the OMRI logo on the label. Only products certified organic feature this logo on the label.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 4:20PM
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suprneko(9b/sunset 16 NorCal, S. Bay)

I think you're going to have to watch for the critter, but my money is on the California ground squirrel.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:22AM
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