What is uprooting my little trees?

mudlady_gw(Syracuse-z5)October 14, 2006

I live in Conquest, near Syracuse, sort of. I am on five acres of fields that were recently in crops. I have an acre fenced with 6 foot chain link for my four Siberian huskies. They have 24/7 opportunity to leave the acre and enter, through a doggie door, their kennel room. The room is finished and insulated and is actually one fourth of my garage. The dogs can come and go as they please between their kennel room and the acre.

A week ago I planted about 12 small trees inside the acre. They were Arbor Day bare root tiny saplings last spring. They ranged in height from 6 to 18 inches, and all were healthy. They had spent the summer in individual pots and all had great root systems.

Last spring I had several nice greaniums in six inch pots. They were left on the garage floor overnight after purchase. In the morning I found two plants removed from the pots and part of the roots had disappeared--eaten?? The plants were several inches from the pots and I don't believe a mouse was strong enough to have uprooted and moved them.

During the spring and summer my dogs have killed, inside their fence or inside their kennel, several mice, a huge rat, and a cat-sized rodent who had hamster like teeth, a rich reddish brown plet, and a ratty tail. I have no idea what it was. Mice and rats can probably sneak into the garage but I don't know how the mystery animal could have gotten in. I suppose it might have squeezed under or climbed the fence. Anyway, these are suspect invaders.

Now, about my trees. they were planted in two locations, about 50 feet apart. The location just outside the doggie door has had three trees uprooted during the night. The digging didn't scatter the dirt as far as the dogs' digging would do. I also don't think it is the dogs because only one location is being disturbed. The roots of the trees appear to have been partially eaten. The trees were moved a few feet from the holes. Two of the tallest trees have been cut in half. The bark on the pencil sized trunks has been gnawed off in a perfect band around the trunks. I had inserted thin bamboo stakes into the ground at each tree so I wouldn't mow any trees by accident. Two stakes were removed and broken into many sections about 6 to 10 inches long. Some pieces had been split lenghtwise.

I don't see anything that points to my dogs doing the damage. When they wake in the morning they show moderate interest in the uprooted trees and they do pee on them. They are heavy sleepers when they are settled into their crates inside the kennel but I find it a mystery that they could sleep through some rodent entering the acre and doing the damage. Siberians have an extremely strong prey drive and if one of them noticed a small animal inside their acre they would catch and kill it.

Does anyone have an idea of what creature is doing this?


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Hello neighbor. Utica, N.Y. here. I am a long time woodsman, hunter, Husky owner and gardener. Currently I have 1 Siberian but in the past I ran a sled with 9 dogs. As for the mystery critter that the dogs killed. From your discription I assume it was either a Muskrat (doubtful unless you have a lot of water around) or a better option is an Oppossum. The Oppossum can squeeze thru some very narrow spaces. They do have a rat tail. They will eat most anything tho I haven't heard of them eating roots. Plus the scent of the dogs would keep them away normally. Since you actually saw the dead critter it may have been rabid accounting for its bravery entering the fenced area. I hope the dogs shots are up to date with rats and Oppossums around. Don't acquit the dogs so early. Since they are using the trees as a urinal there may be a dominance fight going on. The ruling male may pull up the tree to eliminate the others using "his" place. The Geraniums may have succumbed to doggie play. Huskies are very social and playful dogs. I had 2 males as wheel dogs who ran side by side just fine but argued over the use of a rose bush so often they killed it. I like the scent of Geraniums myself.The dogs may like the smell too.
What can you do to be sure? Go to a hunting supply (Walmart) and get some "FOX SCENT". Put that around the trees. If wild critters are doing the damage they will not go near the Fox scent. Its a good way to keep porcupines away from the dogs also. If the damage continues you have to find the dogs guilty. The dogs may be telling you, "its our yard what the heck are you doing planting those trees here?" They could be playing with the trees after seeing you "playing" with them and pulled the trees out by the top. Hence no flying dirt. Dogs in general are chewers. Chewing is fun. It passes the time. We've seen dogs eat grass and they will eat dirt or roots for the same reason. But simple play chewing would make quick trash of the roots. Thats a fairly good case against the dogs.
The missing bark is a mystery. Are there teeth marks? Rabbit teeth? Is it possible the bark came off naturally? A Rabbit would chew the bark but not in the summer. Any critter may have entered the fence without the dogs barking. Generally Huskies DO NOT bark. However I can't see an Oppossum, Muskrat Rat or Rabbit pulling up trees. Theres nothing in the roots that they can't get easier elsewhere and with less danger. A slight case that critters did it.
Appointing myself judge and jury:
I'm sorry but the Huskies are guilty as charged. YOU started "playing" with the trees . They are just following your lead. The trees are broken because CHEWING IS A REAL FUN PASTIME. What else do they got to do all day? The roots are missing from the chew play. But I'll be easy on the dogs this time because there is a slight case that an Oppossum or Porcupine did it. No jail time. LOL!!!
Recently my Husky was on her chain. Hearing a yelp I went to the door to look. She had Quills all over her snout, mouth and feet from a Porcupine. The critter wasn't very scared of the dog. That cost me $378. Then a week later she got skunked. Try the fox scent to be sure. Aren't Siberians great? Mine is 18 months old. Her mom was typical coloring and so was the dad. But this one is all white with a dime size black spot between her eyes. Odd but true. Great temperment in Huskies, playful, great with kids. But if they get off the chain they gone for days. But they fun. and rarely bark. Try getting 9 huskies in a car for a trip to the vet. LOL!!! have a nice day.
The dogs did it. Toss some old shoes from whichever family member the dogs are closest to in the area. They will chew on those instead of the trees.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 11:19PM
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Hi lilium_guy56--
Glad to hear form another Sibe person. I really don't think the dogs are giilty of uprooting or chewing roots. They may be chomping on the bamboo after the mystery critter knocks one over. Still not convinced of that because all the cane scraps remain at the planting site. As I mentioned, I planted trees in two locations and only the one near the garage is being vandalized. I planted the trees in the hope that, someday, they would shade the garage and the dogs' favorite lounging sopt. When I moved here I bought three of the largest Norway maples I could afford and I had them planted in the middle of the acre. Because the land was in crops until two summers ago, there were no trees to provide any shade. Stupid me--the pack doesn't want to hang out where the maples are located. I have also errected a metal tent-like frame with a canopy top to provide shade.

The dogs aren't able to get from their kennel into the garage. Their room is isolated from all the dangerous stuff they might find if allowed into the storage area. The geraniums were attacked inside the garage and the dogs could not have been the culprits. I have also had mouse traps, dead mice locked in place, carried off from within the garage. The traps were the substantial plastic type, not the light wood kind. Something gets into the garage an tears open any trash not contained in coverd trash cans. very large potting soil and garden soil sacks have also been emptied. "It" has also entered the largest size Milkbone box of huge sized biscuits and carried off two or three every night. I am actually somewhat apprehensive when I enter the garage after dark because for all I know, the culprit is the Loch Ness monster! "It" has also burrowed into the pink insulation that surrounds the kennel room (securly covered with thick plastic and many staples) and tunnelled UP to the insulation on the ceiling of the kennel.

Yes, my dogs and cats (cats are always inside the house) are kept up to date on their shots. My Sibes are all rescued and adopted so I didn't raise any of them. I do know the history of three of them because I took them directly from the owners who surrendered them. Only one is a stray and I know only that he was taken from a shelter in Memphis, TN to a foster home. I went to TN to pick him up. Before his arrival I had two males and one female and she was definitely the boss. After the last male arrived from TN he became Alpha and the female's nose is out of joint! She makes life Hell for the poor Omega boy. I know all about escapes and that is why I have chain link and a hot wire. I also have a double gate, like an air lock, to keep them from slipping past me when I enter the acre.

Pictures of possums look like the thing the dogs killed but they are not red-brown. My son, degree in environmental science, and he knows EVERYTHING, says what I have described sounds like an escaped nutria. I did learn that: Nutria predominately feed on the base of plant stems and dig for roots and rhizomes in the winter. My five acres slope toward a swampy area with a brook so I am near water.

I am active in rehoming unwanted Sibes and if you ever want another, or know someone who would make a good Sibe owner, please contact me at moonshineslegacy@a-znet.com . Moonshine was an abused half Sibe and my introduction to learning how very difficult it is to be a responsible Sibe owner. They are too dang smart!

Mudlady--Nancy if I am rescuing Sibes :-)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 5:46PM
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bcday(z5 NY)

I think your garage marauder is a raccoon. They are nocturnal and omnivorous, and the dead mouse in your mousetrap would look like a tasty treat. They are very bold, even walking into people's houses, and are notorious for raiding household garbage. They are good climbers with strong claws and can rip a hole in a wall or roof to get food or shelter. They can also rip up a dog in a fight, even if the dog eventually wins. Raccoons are one of the most common carriers of rabies, and a dog that tangles with one will definitely need a rabies booster even if its shots are up to date. All the raccoon has to do is hiss at the dog, which sprays saliva onto the dog's coat, and that's enough to put the dog at risk -- and you too if the saliva gets from the dog's coat onto your skin. Or so my dog's vet said when he heard of our close encounter with a hissing raccoon.

It's possible that a raccoon did the trees too, but look for bite marks on the gnawed pieces. You can tell a lot about the culprit from the size and shape of teeth marks. It might make a difference what kind of trees they were, too. A pine or maple seedling would be attractive to some animals but not others.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 11:48PM
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Unrelated, but I see that you both love your huskies (despite their mischeivousness!). I have a great 8yo husky here but I live in an apartment in NY City and he doesn't have much of a life, doesn't get to run and play as much as he should.

Do you know of anyone in your area who would love to have him? I have dreams about him living the rest of his life on some LAND, like a pre-heaven doggy heaven... Please contact me if you know anyone...or yourselves? Thank you!! -carly (carlyguar@aol.com)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 2:08PM
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