[permaculture] rodent-repellant herbs?

dwoodard at becon.org dwoodard at becon.org
Thu May 12 20:12:20 EDT 2005


I surmise that where mole tunnels expose or pass close to plant roots,
mice might use them.

Gophers are edible, although they can have tularemia, which needs
precautions in handling them. Game departments should have information on
this disease which can also affect wild rabbits.

I have seen suggestions that dumping fresh manure (human or other) down
their holes causes them to go elsewhere. I don't recall any verification
of this. I recall seeing mention of car exhaust fumes and water also being
used.

Doug Woodard
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

On Thu, 12 May 2005, Ben Martin Horst wrote:

> Just a note on terminology, as folks seem to be confusing moles with
> gophers:
>
> Moles are insectivores -- basically subterranean shrews. They primarily
> eat worms, grubs, and other arthropods living in the soil. Their tunnels
> may uproot plants, but they're unlikely to do much munching on roots or
> any other part of your plants.
>
> Gophers, on the other hand, are rodents, and will eat plenty of
> vegetation. In some parts of North America they can do a lot of damage
> to one's garden. My in-laws (northern Willamette Valley, Oregon) have
> plenty of gophers, and occasionally they'll notice that certain plants
> have gone missing entirely. Upon further observation, they find that the
> gophers have pulled the entire plant down into their tunnels to get at
> the nice green bits that grow above ground. The stories I've heard from
> folks who have lots of gophers suggest that there are no really
> effective ways of controlling or eliminating them. Gopher plant (castor)
> doesn't work (they won't eat it, but it won't keep them from anything
> around it), predators (cats and dogs) can get at them only on the rare
> occasion that they surface (maybe ferrets would do better?), and sonic
> devices (thumpers) seem generally to annoy people more than they do
> gophers. Traps will kill some of them, but they breed and recolonize a
> lot faster than they can be trapped. Also, some traps (the ones that
> fire a bullet into the ground) have a bad tendancy to misfire and do
> extensive injury to the person setting them -- and they're probably
> illegal in most places.
>
> My suggestion would be to experiment a bit ... gophers really seem to
> like certain plants more than others. Out of the 18 gopher species in
> the US and Canada, 13 of them have very localized ranges. The camas
> pocket gopher, for example, is found only in the Willamette Valley of
> Oregon. Texas has around 10 species. This high localization suggests
> that they might also be fairly specialized in terms of diet, sort of
> like Darwin's finches in the Galapagos, but on a larger scale. One could
> try planting a wide variety of plants and keep careful track of which
> species and varieties get heavily munched and which are avoided.
>
> On the other hand, one could discover that the "standard" garden
> vegetables are all on the gophers' "delicacies" list. Another
> possibility would be to create raised beds and enclosing the sides and
> bottom with a fairly fine-grade wire mesh down to a depth of a couple
> feet... this would be a labor-intensive method only suitable for a small
> area.
>
> One last suggestion would be to leave plenty of brush, mulch, and rock
> piles around to provide habitat for snakes. Never underestimate the
> value of a good reptile. Of course, if one is living in an area where
> poisonous snakes are common, one might not want to encourage their
> presence close to heavily-frequented areas like the home and garden.
>
> -Ben
> Southern Willamette Valley



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