Fruit rats are known to target fruit trees and their produce, posing a challenge for homeowners and farmers. However, various measures can be taken to get rid of fruit rats or eradicate rat infestations and protect fruit trees. Identifying rat-infested fruit is relatively straightforward.
However, fruit rats are not easily managed through conventional sprays or pest control products intended for insects. Dealing with these pesky rats requires a systematic approach similar to that of professional pest control services. It often involves multiple steps to effectively eliminate rodents. Integrated pest management is a strategy that incorporates various control methods to ensure the eradication of rats and other pests.
How to get rid of fruit rats
The primary culprit when it comes to disturbing fruit trees is the roof rat, also known as the fruit rat. Roof rats are the most prevalent and troublesome rodent species. The good news is that it is possible to address the fruit rodent issue in your landscape without the need to hire experts. Follow the outlined steps to get rid of fruit rats:
1. Identify rat presence
Rats tend to leave hollowed-out remains, often found on the ground. Look for circular holes, approximately the size of a quarter or half-dollar, where rats have gnawed through fruits like watermelons, cantaloupes, or papayas.
2. Prune and maintain the fruit trees
Maintain regular pruning and trimming of your fruit trees, ensuring a distance of 2 to 3 feet between the trees and any adjacent structures. This isolation helps prevent fruit rats from using the trees as a pathway to access nearby buildings, fences, or roofs.
3. Deter rats from climbing up the fruit tree trunk with a metal guard
Sheet metal is a popular choice among homeowners due to its flexibility and durability against weather conditions. Wrap the base of your fruit tree with the metal guard, extending it about two feet up from the base. This physical barrier will get rid of fruit rats from scaling the tree trunk.
4. Get rid of overripe fruits
Fruits can often fall during heavy storms or when they become overripe. Thus, maintain a clean ground and landscape by removing any edible debris. Regularly clean up fallen fruits and regularly inspect the tree for ripe fruits that are ready to be picked. Leaving ripe fruits on the tree for too long can attract rats. So, make sure to promptly pick the fruits as soon as they are ready, preventing rats from taking them before you do.
5. Set the appropriate bait in traps
Place rat traps or bait boxes near your fruit trees to get rid of fruit rats, as well as remove them from your property.
Bacon, Slim-Jims, dried fruits, or peanut butter are all enticing baits for fruit rats. For optimal results, position the traps under the tree and securely fasten them to the branches. This strategic placement increases the likelihood of successful rat capture.
6. Use the biological method
Employing the predatory services of other animals can be an effective method to eliminate rats from your fruit trees. Rat snakes, for instance, are natural predators that can help control the rat population. They will prey on fruit rats while leaving the fruit undisturbed. According to Whit Gibbons, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, “A rat cannot hide from a rat snake.”
Also, attracting owls or raptors to the area can aid in rat control, provided you maintain a clear ground for these predators to spot their prey from above.
Other ways to get rid of fruit rats:
- Keep all garbage cans securely covered to prevent rats from scavenging for food.
- Avoid leaving dog food in its original bag. Instead, transfer the dog food to plastic or steel containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Stop them from entering your home, as they can use it as a launching point to reach the trees. Inspect the perimeter of your home for any holes or openings and seal them off. One effective method is to insert steel wool into the holes, as rats are unable to chew through it.
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Signs of fruit rat infestation
Evidence of a rat infestation is often visible before actually spotting a rat. Rats are nocturnal creatures that hide during the day, making it challenging to detect their presence until the infestation grows.
An aspect of the initial signs of a fruit rat infestation is teeth marks or holes.
You may also come across rat droppings, which are larger and banana-shaped compared to those of mice. Their nocturnal activities leave behind dirty marks on wood surfaces where they have rubbed against them during their travels.
Detecting a fruit rat infestation in your home is often more apparent than in fruit trees. Infestations in fruit trees may go unnoticed until the fruits start to ripen. Once the fruits are ready to be harvested, you may observe small holes or hollowed-out fruit where rats have climbed in and consumed the interior. These visible signs of damage indicate the presence of rats in your fruit trees and should prompt you to take appropriate measures to address the infestation.
Read also: protecting lemons from rats
If your efforts to get rid of fruit rats have not yielded satisfactory results, reach out to a local pest control company for further assistance. They can provide more advanced and specialized approaches to effectively deter rats from your property and protect your fruit trees. Their expertise and knowledge will help address the rat infestation more comprehensively and offer tailored solutions to meet your specific needs.