Rats vs rats

Matthew Mattus mmattus@charter.net
Fri, 03 Sep 2004 10:17:52 PDT
My first posting after joining, and  I've been reading this group for a year

I live in Worcester Massachusetts, and my collection of Camellia's from
Nuccio's, about 20 potted trees, too have been abused by rats and squirrels.
My elderly father, who keeps an apt above the car garages, feeds the birds
obsessively. So we find seed spread around the greenhouses, on benches, on
cut  wood that we stack for the firesplaces, everywhere.

One day, we noticed that we first had many squirrels, but now closer
inspection also told us that many of these we're big brown rats too, eating
with the squirrels. They are buddies.

I assume that they first came to our place since we had poultry in the
barns. But now that the chickens are all gone, the rats have come closer. I
too noticed that since we breed Irish terriers, well known ratters, that we
never saw any until now, since the dogs are now off at shows in California
for the fall. No wonder out little Margaret zips out back whenever she
can...to hunt!

The rats have posed a big problem now for us, since, although they stay out
of the greenhouses since they are made of steel and stone, with high
foundations to keep snakes out (my own silly phobia! don't ask!) The rats do
dig through the potted plants out side for the summer, and now come quite
close to the porches of the house. We have stopped feeding the birds except
at select station, that have elaborate squirrel protection designed, but
getting rid of them is still aproblem, since we don't want to use poison.

The rats have eaten 5 of our biggest  Amorphophallus konjac, including two
A. titanum.

Mice have been a problem in the cold frames, I once counted 14 under one
board. I lost all of our hardy common bulbs last year (tulips, etc,
ornamentals for forcing and gifts) but the mice stay out of the big
greenhouse since it is pretty sealed off. Good thing, since the Nerine
sarniensis collection and cyrtanthus, clivia and South African bulbs are
kept safe.

This year we are constructing a new Alpine house, and since I designed it to
have louver windows at bench height all around, I am concerned for the
frit's and primulas inside. We'll see. Since we are loading it up for the
autumn today.

Anyway, now I am not embarrased to admit this little problem with nature.
Rat's don't necessarily mean that you have trash, it just means that they
are finding food and shelter.

Greetings from Central Massachusetts!

Matt Mattus
Worcester, Massachusetts USA
USDA Zone 5

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