It’s no secret that rodents are opportunist feeders. The omnivores will eat just about anything! But what they love to eat are grains and fruit. You’ve been worrying about fertilizer, drought, and pesky insects, but a new threat to your fruit trees could be more damaging. Learn how to successfully keep rodents away from fruit trees!
Tried and True Strategies
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Use Rat Guards Around Trees
Rats are very skilled climbers. They can easily scale a tree trunk vertically, much like a squirrel or raccoon can. Set up a first line of defense against rats at the base of your tree with rat guards. Rats guards are physical barrier between your tree and unwanted rodents. It consists simply of sheets of metal or sturdy plastic wrapped around the trunks of fruit trees. The surface of barrier cannot be climbed, keeping rats and mice on the ground and off the base of the tree.
Sheet metal rat guards should be buried at least 1 inch below the base of the tree and then wrapped around the trunk at a height of about 2 ft. Secure the sheet metal by drilling holes in the corners and looping wires, bent like staples, through to secure it in place.
Rats guards are fairly easy and inexpensive to install. You DIY it or purchase them at most hardware stores. For the most effective results, they should only be used after trimming. Long branches that hang and touch your home or other trees will allow the rodents to access the tree in that way, defeating the purpose of the rat guard. Your tree must be isolated for the rat guard to work- this is very important!
Prune and Trim Trees
One of the easiest, proactive strategies you can take to keep rodents off your fruit trees is regular pruning and trimming. Low hanging branches need to be trimmed so that they do not brush the ground. Drooping branches create a low-hanging tree skirt, giving rodents extra access and inadvertently gives them cover while they feast! Keep the ground underneath the trees completely visible. Don’t give rodents anywhere to hide! Careful pruning results in a lack of cover that makes the rodents uncomfortable and deters them from approaching.
Pick Ripe Fruit Immediately
If you aren’t harvesting your fruit from your trees as soon as it ripens, you are basically inviting rodents! Rats and mice love fruit and they will sniff out ripe fruit eagerly. If it begins to fall to the ground they won’t be able to stay away. The attraction will be too strong! But you can prevent this problem (before it becomes a problem) by keeping an eye on your fruit trees and picking ripe fruit ASAP.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things happen that are outside of your control. A big storm, for example, could blow fruit off branches and onto the ground. Just try to clear it away as quickly as possible. Having over-ripened fruit and delicious debris littered around your trees will not only attract the rodents, but will make them associate the space as a food source. Rats and mice are very intelligent, and they will return for more!
Don’t want to throw out perfectly good fruit? If you have an excess of what you can personally use, consider partnering with your local food bank and donating an extra fruit you collect.
Space Trees Strategically
As suggested in the Control of Roof Rats in Fruit Trees guide by University of Florida, you want each of your fruit trees to be be isolated- not touching fences, overhead wires, or the branches of other trees. Roof rats scurry along fence stringer boards or support poles, phone and cable TV wires, to reach the tree branches of fruit trees.
Do not underestimate the creativity of mice and the shrewdness of rats. They are both highly intelligent and resourceful creatures. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Rodents will utilize any accessible route to gain access to the fruit. You need to control the situation be separating your trees from any potential rodent pathways. You can do this through strategically spacing your trees.
First, do not plant or allow your fruit trees to grow too closely together. Never let their branches tough- rodents could travel from one tree to another that way. Fruit trees need 15-30 ft between them, depending on the type of tree. Second, do not allow trees to grow too closely to your home. Roof rats especially are known to scale siding and gutters, climbing to residential roofs. From there, it’s easy access to your fruit tree, if the branches brush up against your home. Finally, be cautious about spacing trees near fencing and power lines. Fruit trees don’t grow as tall as other trees, but if they connect with wires, can definitely be reached by rodents. Spacing your fruit trees strategically is a highly effective way to keep rodents at bay.
Use Rat Traps
If your fruit trees have already caught the attention of rodents, they are a marked target. You need to take on a tough offensive against the rat and mice! Keep rodents away (for good) by using traps. Good old snap traps have been around for a long time and are still an industry favorite because they work. The good news is they are also fairly cheap and not at all complicated to use. If you have no qualms about the lethal nature of rat traps, this could be a great solution for you. The downside of using rodent traps around your fruit trees is that they could attract and potentially harm or kill other wildlife unintentionally.
Set up a trap or two at the base of each fruit tree. You already have bait right there on hand- the fruit! But if you want to use other bait options as well, try peanut butter or bacon. Check your traps regularly. A word of warning- you shouldn’t dispose of dead rodents yourself. They can carry very harmful infectious diseases. Contact your local rodent experts at Green Rat Control for professional dead animal removal services.
Introduce Natural Predators
Want to help nature take care of itself? Consider introducing a natural predator into the environment. Having an outdoor pet cat can be a pretty effective solution for managing rodents on your property. They are a natural enemy of rats and mice. Cats born and bred outdoors are more likely to hunt and kill rodents than indoor house cats.
Signs of Infection
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Wondering if rats or mice are already getting into your fruit trees? It’s not hard to tell. Fruit still on tree branches will have gnawed holes about the size of a quarter. Fruit that has fallen on the ground and been found by rats will be hollowed out and dry.
Rodent Control for Your Whole Property
Fruit trees will naturally attract rodents to your property. As you make arrangements to protect your trees from rats and mice, you also need to plan rodent control for your home. If you think the damage that rodents can do to fruit trees is bad, you don’t want to see the havoc they can wreak in your attic, kitchen, basement, or garage!
Your friendly local experts at Green Rat Control have a developed comprehensive rodent control methods used successfully for many years. Partner with GRC to create a custom rodent control plan that suits the uniqu needs of your property. They’ll start by checking the entire exterior of your home for any weak spots and potential rodent access points and then expertly seal them to keep rodents out!
Don’t wait! Contact GRC to get your free consultation today!