Losing your cool not just about the hot weather but about rats and mice?

Keeping rats and mice away from your fruits and vegetables requires a combination of preventive measures. These rodents can be attracted to the sweet scent of ripening fruits and will even decimate chilli plants if nothing else is around, and their presence can lead to damage to both the produce and the plants.

Here are some strategies to help protect your garden:

1. Remove Attractants:

Keep the area clean and free of fallen fruit, as this can attract rodents. Regularly clean up any dropped fruit, produce or debris to reduce the availability of food.

2. Prune and Maintain:

Prune to create a more open and less sheltered environment, making it less attractive to rodents. Trim any branches or foliage that come into contact with the ground, as this can provide hiding spots for mice and rats.

3. Install Physical Barriers:

Use physical barriers such as tree guards, mesh, or hardware cloth to encircle the base of the plant. This can prevent rodents from accessing the vines and climbing up. Use purpose made bags that cover fruit.

4. Secure Compost and Trash Bins:

Rodents are attracted to compost and trash, so ensure that these containers are well-secured. Use tightly sealed bins and keep them away from the area.

5. Use Repellents:

Consider using natural repellents around your garden. Some options include sprinkling dried mint, garlic powder, or cayenne pepper around the base of your plants. Essential plant oils like peppermint, rosemary, citronella, sage and lavender have strong botanical scents that rats dislike. Alternatively, commercially available rodent repellents may be effective. In my experience the sonic pest controllers have been shown not to work.

6. Owls and Predator Presence:

Fool them into thinking your garden is a home to natural predators like owls by installing plastic decoys in the vicinity. Owls are natural hunters of rodents and will scare them away. Get a cat! Cats love to bring you gifts – if mice and rats will suddenly appear on your back doorstep – thank your cat! Just the smell of a cat will deter rodents. Put cat urine soaked litter around the garden! Mice know cats are in your home because they can smell their predators. The mere whiff of cat urine and litter is often enough to scare the mice away. According to research, mice are conditioned to turn in the opposite direction when they smell cat urine. Can’t have a cat or don’t want to get one? Ask a cat owner if you can have a bit of the used litter!

7. Trap and Remove:

Set up traps strategically to capture and remove rodents. There are various types of traps available, including snap traps, bucket traps and other live traps. Check and empty the traps regularly. Keep pets and kids away from these stations.

8. Use Bait Stations:

Although I personally don’t use these, if you opt for rodenticides, use tamper-resistant bait stations to protect non-target animals and birds. Use baits that are not attractive to pets. Place the stations in areas frequented by rodents but away from the plants. Keep pets and kids away from these stations. Patrol your garden often and remove any bodies to keep them away from other animals. NEVER use sticky bait traps, these WILL catch beneficial insects and other creatures including our native animals. Once attached to the trap these creatures may not be able to be removed – think of a tiny skink lizard that catches bad insects in your garden – once stuck, his skin would tear if you try to get him off, as soon as he is stuck he is basically dead.

9. Regular Monitoring:

Keep a close eye on your plants and the surrounding area. Regular monitoring allows you to identify signs of rodent activity early, enabling you to take prompt action.

Remember to combine several of these strategies for a more comprehensive approach. It’s often more effective to use a combination of methods to create an environment that is less appealing to these annoying pests!  But always be mindful of the safety of other wildlife and pets when implementing control measures. They depend on you to keep them safe!