Rats vs rats

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Thu, 02 Sep 2004 22:27:31 PDT
Well, I lived in Pasadena for 8 years until about 5 years ago when I 
moved to a place 2 miles south of Pasadena. At my original place I had 
both tree rats and squirrels. I had a cat that was an excellent mouser, 
so  although I would see the rats in the neighborhood (for example, 
using the power lines as a sort of freeway to get from one house to the 
next via the various trees), I never had any trouble from them. All I 
ever saw of them in my yard were dead ones at my doorstep when I got 
home from work left as "gifts" by my cat.

The squirrels on the other hand were a horrible problem. There were 
pecan and oak trees in the neighbors' yards so they had plenty to eat. 
They never ate any of my plants or bulbs. What they would do, however, 
was pull the plants or growing bulbs out of the pots and put an acorn 
or pecan in the resulting hole and leave the plant to wither and die in 
the daytime sun. Apparently they were lazy squirrels and didn't want to 
go to the trouble of digging holes in the real ground! Each spring I 
still had to pull seedling oaks or pecans out of various random  pots.

On the other hand, I also had possums and no snail problems at that 
house because the possums would very carefully eat the snails without 
disturbing the plants.

At this house, the first year some rats nearly decimated one particular 
genus of bulb (and I can't remember what it was, but I nearly lost all 
of them until I found a partially eaten one left on the surface of the 
pot so I hid the remaining pots). Then we got a dog who has become an 
excellent ratter. He has killed dozens of rats and is relentless once a 
new one decides to take up residence in our yard. He always gets his 
rat. However, either there are no possums in this neighborhood, or our 
dog scares them away, because I have a huge snail problem. I am 
constantly setting out snail bait virtually all year 'round. On the 
positive side, I've now learned all the species that are absolute 
delicacies to snails and keep them surrounded with snail bait year 
'round. They eventually end up going after other species, but are not 
as voracious about it, so I get plenty of time to set out bait and they 
never decimate those.

We also get the flocks of feral parrots all the time. They are merely 
raucously noisy; they never seem to land in any branches close to the 
ground where I can get a good look at them. (Unlike the time I was in 
Perth Australia in a park next to the Indian Ocean eating dinner when 
an enormous flock of rainbow lorikeets landed in all the trees and you 
could see all their rainbow colors flashing as they moved around!) 
Fortunately, we don't have any of the herds of feral peacocks that roam 
some of the neighborhoods not too far from here.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena area, California, USDA Zone 9-10

On Sep 2, 2004, at 4:33 PM, Rodger Whitlock wrote:
> I seem to recall from the halcyon days of my undergraduate studies
> in Pasadena, California that the palms lining some streets were (so
> the story goes) infested with "tree rats." Allegedly, these would
> set up housekeeping in the tangle of dead fronds near the top of
> each palm.

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