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Rodent control 101

by Dave Owens, The Garden Guy / Special to azfamily.com

GMAZ interview by April "Sunflower" Warnecke

Posted on May 9, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 4:27 PM

Rats/mice

  • Peppermint and moth balls: Not a combination you normally see, peppermint and moth balls are both natural pest repellents. Placing either item or both of them in areas where you wish to ward off mice is one way of keeping the pests away. Growing peppermint near the foundation of your home or around windowsills can help deter mice from ever entering your house, and provides you with fresh mint for your organic pest control venture.
  • Cornmeal and dry cement powder: Another lovely combination, mix equal parts cornmeal and dry cement powder for an organic mice control poison. The mice will ingest the mixture and become very thirsty. Once some water enters their system and combines with the dry cement, the mice will die.
  • Mashed potato buds: A pile of mashed potato buds and a dish of water can be a yummy, but fatal, recipe for a mouse. To make this green pest control solution work, you need to put the pile of buds and water close together. The mouse eats the buds then drinks the water, causing deadly bloating.
  • Large bowl and laverdar or mint oil: Traps are a common form of organic pest control. This homemade, humane design may take longer, but should eventually catch your house mouse. Grease a large metal bowl and place a treat inside. Make a ramp for the mouse to use to get up and into the bowl. The mouse will be safely trapped in the bowl until you are ready to release him.

Rabbits

  • Shake Away
  • Spray w/Tabasco sauce (Spray rabbit repellent on the stems or leaves of vulnerable plants. To make a homemade rabbit repellent, mix about three tablespoons each of crushed cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, and dish soap into a gallon of water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle, shake well and spray onto the plants.)
  • Baby powder (has to contain talc)
  • Human hair, dog or cat hair
  • Blood meal/bone meal
  • Linseed oil - Another homemade rabbit repellent involves linseed oil. According to Karen Armstrong, an extension agent in North Dakota, you simply mix 85 percent raw linseed oil with five percent detergent and 10 percent water. Apply to trees and shrubs in the affected areas with a sprayer or a house-painting brush. Re-apply after heavy rain.

Roof rats

  • They typically eat 30 min. past sundown. Nocturnal creatures.
  • Pick up fallen fruit around fruit trees – if you have roof rats you will see hollowed out fruit on the ground
  • Remove pet foods, bird feeders, standing water. (they need lots of water)
  • Prune the crowns of palm trees and remove dead fronds (habitat for them)
  • Remove limbs that overhang roofs
  • Stack firewood away from walls and fences and at least 18 inches off the ground
  • Make sure garbage is in rodent proof containers
  • Cover attic and foundation vents w/1/4” wire mesh or heavy wire screen
  • Place rat guards made from sheet metal 18 to 24” wide around trees and walls. They can’t climb smooth surfaces
  • Snap traps – bait w/peanut butter, fruit, etc. – pre-bait a few times, then set the traps
  • Sticky traps – more difficult because of height and angle needed to place locations sometimes

Gophers

  • Pocket gophers are most common in gardens and yards here is the Desert Southwest
  • Trapping is safe and effective – two-pronged pincher trap (the Macabee trap) is effective
  • Always place gopher bait in the main underground tunnel, not the lateral tunnels.
  • Natural predators are owls, snakes, cats, dogs and coyotes.
  • Place nest boxes to attract barn owls.
  • Flooding the holes is semi-effective, as is gassing/smoking out the holes.
  • Underground fencing w/galvanized wire is most effective six to 8 inches of coarse gravel 1 inch or more in diameter around underground sprinkler lines or utility cables may deter gophers.
  • Castor oil

More Garden Guy videos


Well-known gardening guru David Owens, aka "The Garden Guy," shows experienced and novice gardeners alike how to grow organic foods in hostile climates (all desert climates) and land. For more information, check out GardenGuy.com or PocoVerde.com. If you have a gardening question, you can email gardenguy@gardenguy.com.

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