St. Louis gardener
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Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:01 pm
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Possum is history, but tomatoes keep getting eaten

The battle over my tomatoes rages on. For several nights I stayed up all night to identify the thief, which turned out to be a baby possum We trapped it and turned it over to a local wildlife rehibilitation clinic. They will keep it for 2 weeks, then release it with two other smaller possums they have. It was a good ending to the story, and I thought my tomatoes were safe, but this morning found more evidence of the fruit being eaten (still on the vine) and a couple cherry tomatoes (one ripe, one not) on the ground, semi-eaten. We never see squirrels in our yard, thanks to our outdoor cat, but she sleeps inside at night so doesn't go out until 7-8 a.m. I'm thinking the squirrels are coming in around dawn and leaving before she is let out. Any other thoughts on what could be eating the tomatoes?

If it is squirrels, I have that fox urine powder stuff that I've been shaking around the perimeter of the garden (didn't work to keep the possum out though!) so I might continue that if you think it might work. When the possum was still coming I put out pans of used cat litter, but he just knocked them over. Would I have better luck with that if it is just the squirrels now that are raiding the garden? Mouse traps were put out last night but not a one was sprung this morning.

I would like to have one week where nothing from the garden is eaten by any creature except me and my family. Any suggestions on how to identify the new thief? My sister said hang mylar balloons from the tomato plant stakes. Do deterrents like this (aluminum pie plates, old CDs, etc.) really work?

Thanks for any suggestions (short of covering the plants or installing an electric fence ... there is no room and no funds for either) on how to keep my garden varmit free.

Bigdtc
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Location: Northern Maryland

I would keep trapping. I have caught 3 baby oppossums, 1 momma oppossum, 1 baby racoon, 1 momma racoon, 3 baby groundhogs and 1 momma groundhog All of them had a weakness for apples after I tried everything else in the kitchen, the apples worked best...good luck

St. Louis gardener
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Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:01 pm
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Hi again. Well, Bigdtc was correct. We have another critter in our tomatoes, although I haven't been able to identify it yet. While the juvenile possum came every night, this guy/gal has only come twice in the last 6 nights. So we went out this week and invested in a trap just like wthe one we had borrowed from our vet to catch the possum. It's a Havahart 32"-long one. Is that large enough to catch a raccoon? I'm thinking the culprit must be a raccoon or another possum. I've never seen woodchucks in these parts (we live in the suburbs, with some parks in the vicinity, but I wouldn't call it "wooded" by any means). I really don't want to stay up all night again like I did when I identified the possum. Thinking about baiting the trap with the half of the beefsteak tomato he/she ate last night (washed it off and keeping it fresh in the fridge), plus some apple smeared with peanut butter, like we used for the possum. Also thinking since he/she went for the plants closest to the back of the garden, nearest the fence (and didn't touch ripe tomatoes near the front that are closer to the patio), that the positioning of the trap should be between the last row of tomatoes and the fence, with the opening facing the back of the yard. Unless this critter is coming over a 6-foot privacy fence, probably coming from the back of the yard, through a flower garden, and into the vegetable garden. What do you think about the bait/trap placement ideas? Any help would be appreciated. Tonight I'll be picking the red tomatoes that are left on the vine, so the only thing good left to eat (unless this varmit likes green tomatoes) will be the bait.

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Kisal
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Yes, that's plenty big for a raccoon. If the critter is trap-savvy, though, it might reach in through the wire to steal the bait, rather than actually entering the trap. They're smart and can be crafty little devils. :lol:
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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Jewell
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Location: South Puget Sound

Good luck! We have an on-going critter challenge. Possums and raccoons both seem to multiple and become quite adept at city living . Both love our fish ponds and I finally gave up and put a short electric fence around my large fish pond :twisted: and framed-wire covered one of the smaller/deeper ones leaving the other two for the critters.

Co-existence has turned into our philosophy after 25 years in the same location. Even with dogs the critters prowl our yard at night. In the last few weeks our dumb Dobie has caught the same dumb possum twice (it played dead and was able to walk away after I put the dog in the house).

Fortunately for us the neighbors have large lots with old big fruit trees that the coons and possums prefer to my vegatable garden (knock on wood) :roll: .
Jewell
My Vegie Gardens https://picasaweb.google.com/Jewell2009/ ... arden2009#
Zone 7b or Western Gardener's Zone 4
There are fairies at the bottom of my garden~Anonymous

St. Louis gardener
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Posts: 85
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:01 pm
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Success! We baited the trap as planned, and last night we trapped another juvenile possum, just a tad smaller than the possum we caught 10 days ago. We brought him to the same wildlife center and it was heartening to see that the first possum was still there (they said they would probably keep him for 2 weeks, and then release him with two other smaller possums they had in another cage) and that these people are good caregivers. I asked if the new possum could possibly be a sibling of the first one we trapped, and if so, could they be housed and released together. (I am such a softie for all animals, even those stealing my tomatoes!) The volunteer that is the possum "expert" wasn't there, but I'm sure now that they will take good care of any and all wildlife we bring to them. Kudos to Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic in House Springs, Missouri!

We will continue to use the trap and, in so doing, hopefully successfully relocate wildlife from our neighborhood to somewhere more suitable for both them and our garden!

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