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Old 10-06-2017, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Sun City West, AZ
497 posts, read 253,805 times
Reputation: 830

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I planted a Bougainvillea a few months ago and it is not growing because rats keep gnawing away at the leaves. I'm pretty sure it's rats because I put chicken wire around the plant and they just burrow under the rocks that are around the chicken wire and the opening they make is about the size of a rat. Also there are a lot of rats here (Phoenix area). They devour all the rat poison I can put out without any apparent impact and they dance around the rat traps I have put out baited with peanut butter. I have used the repellent spray with good success, but that only lasts about 2 or 3 days and then I have to respray, which can get expensive!

Any ideas? I've thought of motion activated killer laser beams, but thought that might be a little extreme!
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Old 10-06-2017, 01:28 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
25,828 posts, read 44,565,197 times
Reputation: 23344
We had some rat problems when a neighbor (now gone) used to attract them with a bird feeder. I found the best solution to be a homemade device. I got a big plastic tub with slick insides, and attached a dowel (like closet rod) across the top with about a foot of 2" PVC pipe around it in the middle. Then I smeared peanut butter on the pipe, all the way around in about the middle inch, filled the tub with water up to about 4" from the pipe/dowel. Some days there was more than one floating in there when I checked it. They jump onto the pipe to eat the peanut butter, fall in and cannot get out. You can also try strong smells to defer them, it interferes with their ability to find food so they go elsewhere. One is mothballs, another mint leaves. Bougainvillea is my favorite plant, but don't grow in our climate, so I have one made into bonsai, and bring it indoors for the winter.
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:13 PM
 
Location: Sun City West, AZ
497 posts, read 253,805 times
Reputation: 830
Thanks Hemlock! I got a chuckle out of the ingeniousness of your rat trap! Love it!

I will try the moth balls first. It seems like the little buggers only attack young plants, established bougainvilleas do not seem to be affected for some reason. Around Phoenix, they are all over (dozens on every block) and they have growth all the way down to the ground with no signs of munching. I'm thinking once they get older, they must not taste as good or something!

Anyway, I agree with you, they are an absolutely gorgeous plant. Here they are in bloom more almost all year!
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Old 10-06-2017, 06:42 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
25,828 posts, read 44,565,197 times
Reputation: 23344
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey59 View Post
Thanks Hemlock! I got a chuckle out of the ingeniousness of your rat trap! Love it!

I will try the moth balls first. It seems like the little buggers only attack young plants, established bougainvilleas do not seem to be affected for some reason. Around Phoenix, they are all over (dozens on every block) and they have growth all the way down to the ground with no signs of munching. I'm thinking once they get older, they must not taste as good or something!

Anyway, I agree with you, they are an absolutely gorgeous plant. Here they are in bloom more almost all year!
Yes, the tender young leaves are much thinner and softer until they mature and harden, may even affect the taste but Iím not about to test that and find out.

Mine seems rather pitiful compared to what you have there, but Iím just glad to be keeping it alive and healthy.
Attached Thumbnails
Rats eating Bougainvillea-cfbf5792-ab7e-43d8-a48b-fa064ee6306c.jpeg  
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:24 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...
37,360 posts, read 40,935,629 times
Reputation: 99986
OP they're more than likely pack rats. Very prevalent in the desert and especially in your area. They usually come out at night and do their damage. They are using the materials to build nests nearby and to have their babies. They can reproduce as often as every 90 days and multiply by 100's within 2 years. You can find their nests under many cacti and desert type plants. Multi trunk yucca plants are one of their favorite places to nest. Though they can hide under most mature desert plants that provide minimal amount of shade. They are also known to get into garages and vehicles and chew the wiring. Also into your attic and chew the wiring and insulation for their nests too.
Pack rats are just what their name implies, they take any material available to them to build their nests.
I used to trap them with spring type mouse traps coated with some peanut butter. I caught over 90 pack rats at a nearby neighbors yard with those traps. That ended the problem as far as I know in our area. But they can return at anytime. There are no guarantees with them.
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Old 10-07-2017, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Sun City West, AZ
497 posts, read 253,805 times
Reputation: 830
Hemlock, I'm sure you already know this, but the more sun they can get, the better they will do. I have two others that I planted at the same time, but they must be further away from the rats, so they don't pick on them. Those other 2 are growing like weeds! They only get sun from about 11AM to 5PM, but they are loving every bit of it! The one the rats are gnawing on can't grow because it doesn't have enough leaves to capture enough sun to grow. Poor thing, I'm surprised it's still alive!

Thanks wit-nit. You are right about it most likely being pack rats. I have heard they are quite common here. Found the skeleton of one in my garage shortly after I moved in... He was about 18" from nose to tail! The worst part is, they don't pay a dime in rent!
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