Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rats In My Orange Tree

Recently a question was asked about the roof rats in my orange tree--the picture shows the damage they do (I posted about rats in my orange tree last January here). I thought others might have the same question, so I am posting it here:

Anonymous asked--
"I know that its been a while since your post, but how did you remedy this problem? I could really use some advice since we just recently acquired this same situation with our orange tree. I have trimmed the tree dramatically already but the rats persist and return. Which is totally creeping out myself and our kids. Thanks for your thoughts."

I'm sorry to say that I haven't done anything about the roof rats in my orange tree. The tree is a mature, full-size tree (about 23' high), so there are a lot of oranges that I can't reach and the rats can. Early this past spring I had cats leave me three dead rats in a one week period, but there is at least one still living or eating in my orange tree. The tree is next to a fence, with the neighbor house just a few feet from the tree. That house has been empty for the last 2 years and the rats may be living there, too. I have never seen the rats myself (other than the dead ones), and I have not pruned back the tree.

I would not use rat traps (the larger "mouse" traps) as kids or cats might be injured when the trap is triggered. Rat poison may harm or kill children, cats, birds, or dogs (if the poison is knocked or wind-blown to the ground). You might have to have an exterminator remedy the problem; but other rats may come in, something you could discuss with the exterminator.

Caution--be careful pruning back citrus trees, as the branches and trunk sun scald very easily. You can paint the trunk with one part white enamel paint and one part water. I nearly killed my orange tree when I pruned up the limbs (so it looks like a tree instead of a huge bush). The trunk burned so bad I thought it was beyond hope. At that time I was a gardener, but never had citrus trees. I learned that lesson real fast.--Gard'n Judy

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