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Agavaceae Open Discussion of Agave, Beschorneria, Furcraea, Hesperaloe, Hesperoyucca, Yucca, Manfreda, Polianthes, and related species

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  #1  
Old 09-03-2010, 04:01 PM
GermanStar GermanStar is offline
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Default What is eating my Agaves?

And what preventive measure can I employ besides screening? Four of the six plants pictured are in my backyard. I haven't seen a rabbit in my yard all summer, though the area is generally thick with them. AFAIK, all this damage occurs while I'm sleeping. Harris Antelope Squirrels, Rock Squirrels, Pocket Mice, and Kangaroo Rats are abundant, along with Pack Rats and Rabbits.

Heck, I stuck a tiny little A. zebra in the ground a couple of days ago, and something came along and nipped a leaf point off! Arrrrgggghhhhhhh!!!
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:11 PM
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Squirrels and birds love some of my agaves and aloes.
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:32 PM
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Smile Voles, Mice or Rabbits

I have seen these types of damage from rodents, mostly voles and deer mice. The lack of rasping marks on the leaf surface would make me discount snails or slugs. A quick experiment would be to put a ring of chicken wire 3/4" openings around a few of the plants and a ring of 1/4" hardware cloth around the others. If you receive no more damage around the chicken wire enclosure, then I would assume larger rodents, if you still have damage but not around the 1/4" screened plants, then assume voles or mice. Look for scat (animal droppings) around the plant. Small elongated cylinders are more typical of smaller rodents whereas tapered fecal pellets or larger rounded droppings would be squirrels and rabbits respectively.

Examine the edges to see if you can notice any serrations as well. The weird weather here in the Bay Area of California has seen a population explosion of immense proportions of voles and mice and they have been having a field day with my dudleya and Astragalus.
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:49 PM
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There are all manner of rodents/rodent burrows throughout my yard, most from Pocket Mice, thought I've seen the odd Kangaroo Rat as well. I was not aware that these creatures dine on Agaves. Since most of the damage is confined to my smaller Agaves, your small rodent guess makes a lot of sense. I was leaning toward an especially brave rabbit (fenced yard/two dogs) making pre-dawn raids until I saw the A. zebra today. That damage is just too fine for a rabbit. I have a lot a small Agaves, I'm really not interested in screening them all. My large and even medium Agaves are not in danger, what little damage there is, is proportionately insignificant.
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Old 09-03-2010, 04:57 PM
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Talking Pocket Mice???

Most of the pocket mice and kangaroo rats (Heteromyids) prefer seed based diets with occassional arthropod desserts. Voles, on the other hand, prefer leafy vegetable matter and are hard to trap based on this diet preference. Voles will also frequently start clipping leaves when they are nest building. They are also known to enter into the bottom holes of pots and pull the dirt out and feed on the roots and bases of plants. There is a really good video on the web

YouTube - Vole Traps and Trapping Techniques


IT WORKS WONDERS!
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Old 09-03-2010, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boo Hollow View Post
Most of the pocket mice and kangaroo rats (Heteromyids) prefer seed based diets with occassional arthropod desserts. Voles, on the other hand, prefer leafy vegetable matter and are hard to trap based on this diet preference. Voles will also frequently start clipping leaves when they are nest building. They are also known to enter into the bottom holes of pots and pull the dirt out and feed on the roots and bases of plants. There is a really good video on the web
That's what I thought, I'm not aware of any voles frequenting the Sonoran Desert. AFAIK, I covered all the common rodents in the area in my OP.
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:28 PM
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The damage you show looks just like the damage I get from the Desert woodrats that frequent my place. These are easily trapped in live traps using a dab of peanut butter, and then you can feed them to a pet snake.
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Old 09-04-2010, 11:15 AM
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I tried trapping for packrats a few months ago when this started, and the culprit passed on the peanut butter in favor of another Agave leaf. So.......I know that was a rabbit. OTOH, some more recent damage is likely not from rabbits, so perhaps I'll lay another peanut butter-laden trap where that is occurring. I dug up the A zebra and potted it, guess I'll try again next year.
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Old 09-04-2010, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agavegreg View Post
The damage you show looks just like the damage I get from the Desert woodrats that frequent my place. These are easily trapped in live traps using a dab of peanut butter, and then you can feed them to a pet snake.
Good call. Look what I just found. This Pack Rat nest is in my neighbor's yard, right up against the retaining wall that borders the part of my yard where the newest damage is occurring. I recognized many things from my yard in the nest, including plenty of nice fresh dog feces (yech).
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Old 07-17-2012, 05:00 AM
Bill Lamar Bill Lamar is offline
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I am in eastern Texas and the packrat (Woodrat) version we have here is Neotoma floridana. they are hefty, destroy power tools and generally make a mess, not to mention getting inside the house where they really stir things up. They are nocturnal and mostly active in the crowns and boles of trees (I live in a dense forest). They show zero interest in most baits but there is one they cannot resist:

http://www.neogen.com/AnimalSafety/i.../116372_lg.jpg

I use "Havoc" in the packet form and have six baiting stations I keep current. In the four years since I initiated this, problems with these rats have dwindled to a minimum. Prior to that, I would lose the odd aloe or suffer grazing on small agaves. In places where I am not confident that something other than the intended target might receive the bait, I simply wire the packet at the middle of a short length of pvc piping which the rat then enters. Typically, an adult will consume an entire packet.

Interestingly, the population here shows no interest in other rat baits designed for black and Norway rats. They also spurn peanut butter, but I have caught the occasional one in a snaptrap baited with a liveoak acorn. The Havoc packets are the way to go, and I am curious as to whether they might be equally effective on some of the western species of Neotoma.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:31 PM
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I agree with all you guys, most likely rodents, I have to deal with this all the time where I live, but keep an eye out for young cottontails GS. I actually caught one chewing on two on my agave's after sitting there waiting to see who the culprit was for 4 hours. It can be very frustration I know, buy not as bad as those damm pigs. Good Luck. Martin
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:48 PM
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Here you go G-Starr, This is from 3 weeks. Martin
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:59 PM
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Ouch. This thread is two years old, and the wood rat problem is well in hand. Rabbits are another matter, as you are well aware. I actually killed two rabbits in my backyard this year with unbaited rat traps. That's what I do, if a plant has been getting chewed, I'll place a rat trap or two near it. Most rabbits are too timid to chance it, so the plant is safe, but some rabbits are braver than others...
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Old 07-17-2012, 01:32 PM
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I did not even look at the date G-starr, I saw it was the first thread and just responded. I need to pay attention to the dates. I knew you and I have talked about this a lot over the last few years. Oh yeah all of these varmints have meet there maker. Take Care GS- Martin

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Old 07-23-2012, 04:27 PM
Bill Lamar Bill Lamar is offline
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Some of us are newcomers and the topics are just as salient now as back when the threads started. Moreover, new ideas come in....
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