Rats eating plants!

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Several species of rats have eaten almost all of the blooms and leaves on my large rose of Sharon which is a tree (afraid it is going to die); all my vines to the ground including evergreens; all young vegetable plants; pepper, lemon, lime, pomegranate and eggplant fruit; ivy, Mexican petunia and the list could go on. There were 5 huge rats eating the rose of Sharon leaves in the afternoon several days in a row; however, most of the damage is done at night. They are coming from the fields behind my house and from tree trunks and limbs that were placed all along my neighbors' fence that separates our properties when their huge oak tree was cut down. They refuse to haul off this rat hotel.

I have very few plants left in my patio area and my vegetable plants are being destroyed. I resorted to leaving pans of water for the rats; however, they are also obviously in search of food due to the extremely severe record breaking drought in my area and this strategy did not work. I actually placed dog food out for them to eat instead of my plants and they ate none of it. My Jack Russell terrier has killed a few. We have had to resort to using traps which has been ineffective; however, the rat "army" must be quite large and we are unable to leave traps in areas that my dogs and other animals can access. I won't use poison.

Cats aren't doing their job and my neighbor shot the owls who used to help out with keeping the rat population down. They have invaded my house and have destroyed parts of my air conditioner as well as a part on my washing machine. They ate our air conditioning ducts and are chewing holes through the walls of our garage trying to access the inside living space. We are having to patch rat holes (as well as squirrel holes) on the outside of the house Anyone have any suggestions as to how to save my plants and my house from these critters? Any suggestions would be appreciated especially any non-lethal ones. I am about to the point of arming myself ...

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

On RV forums, I've seen discussion of a device that emits an ultrasonic sound that causes rodents to leave the area.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I sympathize with you Hazel. I had a lighted three shelf plant cart in my garage where I was rooting my cuttings and seedlings and they were destroying all of them, I ended up bringing the cart in the house even though I really don't have a good place for it, and putting the sound devices in the garage.
I don't know if they are gone, but I haven't seen any more damage, except from the squirrels, who dig in my pots and eat my fruit.

I also volunteer and the city greenhouse raising plants for the wildscape, and the rats went crazy over there, they ate many of the plants down to the roots and finally they resorted to poison, they are gone now, thank goodness.

I hope you can get your problem under control, it is very upsetting.

Baytown, TX(Zone 9b)

OH my Gosh. This is awful. I sure hope you find something that works and soon. I saw a show years ago saying that droughts cause rodents and other animals to reproduce at alarming rates. Please becareful as breathing the dried droppings causes the Haunta virus in ones lungs. It is a deadly virus. I am not trying to scare you...just trying to let you know so you can be very careful.

Sugar Land, TX(Zone 9a)

If you have to clean a place where rodents have been it is recommended that you first spritz the area with a bleach/water mixture to avoid the dust from dried urine or feces entering your lungs and causing infection.

I know that problems with rodents can be very disheartening. Good luck.

Baytown, TX(Zone 9b)

I don't have rodents but I have grasshoppers that get 4 inches long. I have a small yard and from babies to full grown I have killed over 300 this year. I saw one last night when I was watering after dark. I hit him with the sprinkler but it was to dark to see if I got him.

This is my Aztec lily with the bloom now eaten and the bloom stem chewed on. It is a little out of focus (sorry)

Thumbnail by ilovejesus99
Baytown, TX(Zone 9b)

Nothing eats these grasshoppers because they are poison. It figures!! Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper.

I really hope you can find a way to get rid of the rats. Great advice on the bleach water. I would also wear a mask. You can usually find them at the dollar store...Maybe 3 to 5 in a pack for 1 dollar.

Thumbnail by ilovejesus99
Iowa Park, TX(Zone 7b)

Have you tried asking friends or family that have dogs with the predisposition of hunting rats/small animals, to bring their dogs over for a hunting party?

We have a dog that is just a mut, but she takes hunting rats and mice seriously; she will not quit till every last rat/mouse in our yard is dead. When the fall comes and the varmits are looking for places to hide for the winter, we have to go out and see what she is barking about, then move the fire wood or whatever the mice are hiding under, she grabs and kills them (she will chase them down if they try to run for it.) It may take a couple of times a week for a few weeks but the dogs could put a serious dent in the rat population. Seems to me that would be the easiest and most effective thing to do.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Jack Russell terriers were bred for rat hunting from a show I saw, about the best defense you have seems. I had some rodents taking my Althea blooms once but my neighbor sat out with a flashlight several nights and shot them.
First time I ever knew that happened. They were white blooms and I caught a glimpse of a bloom walking up the branch and down the trunk, weirdest thing I had ever seen.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Dogs_N_Petunias, thanks for the suggestion. My husband has ordered one that is set off by the motion of body heat. I have tried the small ones before; however, they never solved the problem.

Josephine, thanks. I am going to try the ultrasonic device. My husband almost cried when all his seedlings were eaten down. If I could determine a way to poison them without harming my dogs and other animals. I would probably resort to poisoning them because it has become so bad.

ilovejesus99 and Peony1066, thanks for the warnings about the health hazard involving rats and the suggestions. ilovejesus99, I'm sorry that you have the grasshopper problem and hope they don't come here! Your poor Aztec lily ... so sad.

Ladypearl, thanks for the suggestion. My Jack Russell who is bred to hunt and kill rats has tried his best with the help of my huge other dog. They work as a team with each dog blocking the each direction the rats might run. But, there are just so many of them ... almost a rat army. The 2 terriers in the neighbor's yard are after them as well. A little Jack Russell was lost for 2 days .... should have adopted him if his family wasn't found. I have been upset with my neighbor's cats digging in my flowerbeds for years. Now, they are my friends. I am encouraging more of them to come visit at night. Several now come every night into my backyard when the dogs are not out to hunt the rats. Several hawks have been coming to bathe in the birdbaths every day and have caught a few rats that were out in the daytime.

Sheila_FW, thanks for your comments. My Jack Russell wants to go out every 10 minutes at night to chase the rats down. I would leave him out all night if he wasn't so lonely by himself. He wants out and then wants right back in after a chase, Then, he wants back out again. Funny story about your "moving" althea bloom. Bet that freaked you out for a second! My husband has shot a few rats with a pellet gun; but, he is not very persistent. We are ordering fox scented pellets that can be placed around the yard, in flower pots and hung in stockings from tree branches. I'm mixing peppermint extract with water and spraying it on the plant leaves as well as soaking rags in ammonia and placing the rags where I know the rats are coming through the fence and making holes in the house. Lots of rat raps are in the vegetable containers. I'll try any thing at this point.

Thank you all for your comments.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Sounds like you need to seek professional help with them. That is a serious problem you have because they breed so fast too. I know you could ring the neck of the guy that shot the owl. They are great hunters.

Goldthwaite, TX(Zone 8a)

Hazel, watch out for your dogs as neighbors who aren't as well informed may use rat poison. As you know, if a dog or cat eats a poisoned rat, he too could die. We all need good soaking rain to get back to normal!

Baytown, TX(Zone 9b)

I use to have pet German hooded rats. They make better pets than hamsters But I am not speaking about wild rats. The reason I bring them up is they have babies every 2 weeks and can get pregnant immediately after giving birth. It is a vicious cycle. They can have 5-8 litters a year and 5-8 young per litter. Times that by 10 females and OMGosh a living nightmare.

I quit having pet rats as they only live 2 years. That got to be too much heartbreak.

I hope you can get a handle on this soon. What a terrible thing to have to deal with. I killed another grasshopper tonight. I sure hope none mated and laid eggs for next year. My poor Amaryllis look awful.

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