MikeP09
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Location: Somerville, NJ

Many Critters!!

Hello everyone! I am looking for some advice on what to do about the animals in my yard and neighborhood. For starters I have 2 or 3 cats that come through my yard like it's theirs. I have a woodchuck that lives under my shed. Squirrels are just everywhere. I have a family of rabbits. My neighbor told me there is possums that come through. Jeez,, I am trying to get my garden set up for the spring and am finding I might have a big problem. Is building a fence my only option? I really don't wanna spend the funds but I will if I have to. How will I keep squirrels out? Can't they just climb over any fence? What about birds? I have thousands of em that love my back yard.

Can anyone advise me?

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Diane
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You can't keep squirrels out. The only veggie they did eat was my corn. Why I never grew it again. They ate every bulb I ever planted. So, no more of those planted. Oh and sunflower seeds.

I have a (?) skunk and chipmunk, if they've eaten anything I haven't noticed. Possums have been spotted, still no damage. I've heard they eat rodents.
Cats, they might use soft areas for a litter box.
Birds aren't much trouble and they like to eat bugs. They do like my blueberries. :cry:

I know from reading here that rabbits will cause you trouble.
You can do a search and find lots of posts about how to deal with them.
I think I read that a small chicken wire fence is enough to keep them out.
Gardens are a little bit of heaven on earth.

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Kisal
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Among other things, 'possums are especially fond of eating snakes. They aren't very demonstrative in the way of cats or dogs, because their brain doesn't have much of a frontal lobe, but they do an absolutely superb job of being 'possums. They're a very ancient species. :)

They are nature's little garbage men. They have relatively weak teeth and jaws ... although they certainly can inflict a bite when necessary. They prefer foods with a soft texture, like overripe fruits and vegetables, decomposing meat, and soft-bodied insects. As I mentioned, they also particularly like snakes, and will eat slugs and snails, as well.

'Possums that live into old age, which for their species is about 18 to 36 months, often die of starvation, because their canine teeth break off. That makes it difficult for them to eat.

As you can probably tell, I like 'possums a lot. :)
Last edited by Kisal on Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"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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rainbowgardener
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You didn't mention raccoons in there. I can't believe you have all those other critters and don't have raccoons. They are the worst pest in my garden, totally destructive.

As noted the only problem with cats is if they use your garden as litter box. We have three outdoor cats we feed, but have not really had a problem with that. Also as noted squirrels will do anything for corn, but otherwise don't seem to bother the garden much. There's tons of squirrels here and I don't have trouble with them, except they do love the bird seed. But we have the bird seed in squirrel proof feeders now, so the squirrels just help clean up what is dropped on the ground. Our possum likes the dry cat food we put out for the cats (as do the raccoons and bigger birds like starlings and blue jays), but otherwise doesn't seem to mess with the garden too much. The birds are beneficial in your garden.

[I also gave up on growing corn, even when I used to live where I had space enough to grow it, because EVERY outdoor critter loves it, birds, squirrels, woodchucks, raccoons, mice, rats, voles, shrews, etc etc....]

So that leaves the woodchuck and the raccoons if any, both of which are destructive. I have discovered that the woodchuck thinks sunflower plants are a special treat. Any time I plant them, he comes along and bites the tips off the plants when they are only a few inches high.

Anyway really only two things to do, barriers or repellants. Without building a fence, deer netting (also sold as bird netting) works pretty well. I use it for my tomatoes, which otherwise would be totally devoured by both the woodchucks and raccoons. It's very light weight and easy to throw over things (but you need a frame, if it's just resting on your plants, critters can bite through it). But the netting has to be VERY well secured at the bottom AND the top. I had it tied together at the top with plastic twist tie kind of stuff and the raccoons UNTIED it!

Repellants that people recommend (I haven't tried it, I've been going the barrier route, but probably a combination would be best) include human urine, human hair, bars of Irish Spring soap hung around, epsom salts, ammonia soaked rags. They sell things like coyote urine as critter repellants (I always wondered how they collect that! :? ) Also cayenne pepper on your plants is repellant for critters and insects.

I don't have rabbits in my garden, and I'm not sure if the rabbits could bite through the deer netting. If so you might have to add 18" or so of chicken wire...

You can also, as my friends have, pretty easily put together a home made solar powered electric fence. I'm thinking about that for next year. You only need two or three strands of wire, maybe only two if you don't have deer in your garden--you didn't mention them. They are the most destructive garden pests of all and getting more common in many city as well as suburban areas. I haven't seen them in my garden (yet), but they are around just a few blocks away.

MikeP09
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Thanx for the replies! No I don't have raccoons or deer, so I guess I have to count my blessings for that one! I think since I have time before the spring I might put up a 4 or 5 foot fence with chicken wire. Seems to be the best solution! I was worried about squirrels since I know the fence wouldn't stop them, they'll just climb right over. But it seems noone has real problems with squirrels. And I'm not planting corn so + for me!! Cats are my second biggest fear since I know if they deficate in my plot it could be a problem, but I doubt they would jump a fence to use my garden as a litter box!

I have 2 raised beds, both are 22' by 5' so I think it would be worth it in the end to just put up the fence. :x It's a one time deal so I might as well get it over with.

Interesting what you said about possums liking snakes because other than a new gardener :D I am an avid fisherman. I use live eels for my fishing and keep them in an aerated tank. When and if they die I bury them about a foot deep in the back of my yard. Every morning after, the hole is dug up and the eel is gone! Thought it was the cats and I guess it still could be, but I wonder if it is the possums. :?

Thanx again for the responses, I like to read them!!

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Kisal
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I suppose it could be a 'possum, although I don't think they're much for digging into the earth more than a few inches to get at insects. Their forepaws are like little 'hands', similar to those of a raccoon, rather than like the paws of a dog. Their claws are soft and short, however, so unless the soil was quite soft, I doubt a 'possum could manage to dig through it. They don't even dig dens for nesting, but they will take advantage of any unused holes they might discover.

When you think of 'possums, think "soft." Everything about them is soft and relatively weak. They just aren't built to live very long, or survive a hard existence. They're scavengers, for the most part, eating whatever they find on the surface of the ground, or just a few inches below. They certainly can find their way under and over fences, for instance, to get at poultry, garbage, or compost; but they won't go through fences, like a raccoon can, nor will they even really dig under a fence, the way a fox or dog might. They'll dig for insects in soft, newly turned soil, but they won't tear up your lawn looking for grubs. (That would be the work of your friendly neighborhood raccoon. :roll: )

They're really pretty innocuous little creatures, just out at night cleaning up dead animals, rotting fruit, whatever insects they can catch, etc. (Oh, I saw one attack a garden hose one night, but I'm pretty sure the little creature thought it had been blessed with the biggest snake it had ever seen! Once it bit into the hose, it went on its way, with its disappointment almost palpable. :lol: ) It's their misfortune that they weren't blessed with great beauty, such as a fluffy plume of a tail, but they really are harmless little animals.

Whenever I was called out to get a 'possum, people were always amazed that I would walk right up behind it, take hold of the base of its tail with one hand, slide my other hand under its belly to support it, and just lift it up and put it into the box or crate. The thing would be hissing loudly at me all the while, of course, but I've never had one try to bite me. I even once reached into the pouch of a female that I was rehabbing, to check on her babies, and she didn't make a move to harm me.

A bite from a 'possum would require medical treatment, because they are carrion eaters, so their mouths are full of bacteria ... some of it quite nasty. But their jaws are too weak to cause damage like breaking your bones. (A raccoon once just barely nipped my finger, but it was enough to break the bone. :( )
"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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Diane
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Funny we're talking about possums. My mother has a crawl space under her house, not a basement like the rest of us. One night she heard sounds. She looked down into her heat register and swore something hissed at her.
She was in a panic.
She called my brother, who didn't believe her, but still came to check it out.
He crawled, hands and knees in the crawl space and found signs of some animal living there.
They used a cage to catch what turned out to be a possum.
After learning that he found a hole and walked in and wouldn't dig a hole to get back in, they let him go across the road.
They put the cage back just to make sure he was the only one and he was.
My mother leaves cat food out for the visiting/stray cats, so it seems the possum would eat, then go 'home' under her house. :lol:
Gardens are a little bit of heaven on earth.

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Rose White
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Squirrels in my attic

I like seeing squirrels all over my yard and trees, but when they made a home in my attic I became concerned as they might start chewing the electric wires. First, I saw pieces of insulation on my front porch, so I went upstairs to check it out. I had the tree branch cut down that reached over to the roof where they climbed in under the eaves. (Their bodies can become pretty flat so that they can get into small holes. )

Boy, were they mad! I had a daycare center in my home at the time and we were all playing on the front porch when a squirrel came and scolded me. I was afraid she would attact the children so we went inside. It seemed like she was upset because her winter home was destroyed. After that, she/they moved into the attic in the neighbor's garage.

They ate from the bird feeder occasionally and loved my tulip bulbs. I love tulips too, so every year I would buy lots of cheap tulip bulbs.
:flower:

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