Rats and Vegetable Gardens #218408 - Ask Extension

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Rats and Vegetable Gardens #218408

Asked October 26, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

I would like to start a vegetable garden and plant an apple and pear tree in my backyard. I have found two dead rats in the yard that the cats have dragged in. Do I need to be very concerned about attracting rats? I live in the town of Ashland, Oregon. Thank you.

Jackson County Oregon

Expert Response

Rats, unfortunately, are everywhere there is shelter and a food source. You should be concerned about any dead animal the cat brings in--if the cat did not kill the rats, the rats may  have been poisoned. It is very important that you monitor your cat very closely and get immediate attention from a vet if it shows any sign of vomiting or illness. As far as fruit trees are concerned---the trick is to pick up any fallen fruit. It is highly unlikely for a rat to climb the tree in search of food; if  that does occur, you can use a barrier (a physical metal "halo" around the trunk or a slick plastic wrapped around the trunk and coated with tangle-foot or other sticky substance. Rats love woodpiles, garbage piles, and easily obtained food. Keep your garden clean and you will have less trouble. Invading rats can be trapped mechanically (any garden store has traps and will guide you in their use) or excluded from a vegetable garden with mesh barriers they cannot climb easily. Because you have pet animals, the use of poisons is not recommended.Go ahead and plant your fruit trees (bare root season is upon us!) and enjoy your harvest.
Marjorie Neal Replied October 27, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

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