I think rats are eating my tomatoes

There’s a family of rats that lives somewhere under the bushes along my back fence. I’ve seen them in the yard before, gathering birdseed from the ground and then scurrying back under the bushes. I didn’t really mind them before; I like watching wildlife in my backyard and I consider the rats to be wildlife just as much as birds and squirrels.

But now tomatoes have been disappearing from my garden. One day, there’s an almost ripe tomato on the vine. The next day the tomato is gone. The other day I saw a rat scurrying away from the garden, so I am 99% sure the rats are eating them. Ok, I said I didn’t mind them when they were just taking birdseed, but now that they’re taking my tomatoes, this means war!

Ok, I don’t actually want to poison them, as I’ve hear that can be dangerous for people’s pets. I see many rodent repellent products online products online, both chemical and electronic. Do these things work? Anyone have any experience with them?

I’ve had some luck with animal repellent sprays containing capsaicin.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if the blame lies more with squirrels…

I have nothing to add, but when I read the thread title, I heard it in my head like when John Lennon shouts “I got blisters on mah fingers!” at the end of Helter Skelter.

Yeah, I’m weird like that.

Yep. Rodents of some kind are stealing your produce.

I’m sorry, I laughed at the vision of a little mouse with a big ol’ ripe tomato on his back and the cheering from his 100s(yes 100s) of family members when he got home with in.
If you’ve seen a few there are x100 more you aren’t seeing.
They are a few days from moving into your house.

What ever kind of abatement you use it needs to be mindful of the fact you’re only getting the top layer.
Be proactive.
Get an outdoor cat. Get some rat traps.
And my favorite moth balls.

YMMV, but I believe in the moth balls. No animal likes them.
Well, I take that back. Feral hogs will eat them and keep moving.
Good luck.

Befriend a local cat?

For years, I blamed squirrels for eating my nearly-ripe tomatoes from high up on the plant. Then, I caught a rabbit in the act. I had no idea they could stretch so tall.

That’s pretty clever with the moth balls in a bag. I like it!

Off topic, but that was actually Ringo who yelled that.

Actually, that was Ringo who yelled that.

Hey! A double post.
Oh, no we already broke the new site.
This is why we can’t have nice things around here.


I think someone is framing WIldaBeast’s rats just like your squirrels were being framed.

Beck, when I was a kid, my dad put moth balls around the flower beds to keep the rabbits away. Some birds would come around and preen their feathers with the moth balls, to get rid of little bugs.

Could you not just put nets around the plants? I am not a gardener so this could be a terrible idea.

There is bird netting for fruit trees and berry bushes.
I think rabbits, squirrels and rats could get through it easily.

Get a plastic 5 gal bucket. Fill halfway with water and float a layer of sunflower seeds on it. Place it in the affected area and remember to dispose of drowned rats each morning.

sigh This makes me a bit nostalgic for the 90s, back when A.O.L. was mailing out ridiculous quantities of online access discs to everyone.

My mom hung a bunch in her yard, hoping the twisting, flashing objects would scare away birds and squirrels.

It worked!!! … for about two days. Like any scarecrow, ya hafta move the damn thing around.

O.P. how many tomato plants we talkin’ about here? How many cubic feet would need to be enclosed if, say, you wanted to use a lil’ electrified fencing?

Not saying you need to toast the little buggers or anything. They’re just trying to get a meal, same as the rest of us. But a light snap of shock has a distinct deterrent effect without the need for bothersome pouring out of drowned rodents.

Distributing loose mothballs around the garden is an environmentally bad idea. In bags is not a lot better.

Use traps.

Most tomato varieties sold for home gardening bud, flower, and produce new fruit throughout the season. Each one of those flowers needs to be pollinated to produce fruit.

The net isn’t clearly awful. Tomatoes are a self pollinator. They mostly pollinate by wind action not insect. A tight mesh netting might still interfere enough with insect access and air flow to reduce the number of tomatoes produced. Hand pollination would be an option to prevent the problem. It is an extra task that would need to be kept up with.

Assuming the rats did not just use their sharp teeth and claws to tear holes in the net. My money would be on the rats in that fight.

I bought some of this animal repellent and spread it around the parameter of the garden. Well see if that helps.

I actually looked for moth balls but couldn’t find any. Apparently no one sells old fashioned moth balls anymore. All I found was that natural cedar moth repellent.

Gotta love any ingredient list that contains ‘putrescent whole egg solids.’