Diseases & PestsMost Popular

5 Ways for Keeping Rats Away from Fruit Trees

Rodents like mice and rats can be pests but can also spread disease. For example, rat urine can spread leptospirosis which can result in kidney damage in humans. Viral infections can be spread through their saliva as well as their urine. At one time, rats were responsible for spreading the Black Plague through their fleas. Along with the spread of disease, rats, like the roof rat, can have a serious impact on agriculture. Farmers are always trying to control the rat population because a rat infestation could seriously damage their crops.

Preventing Rats

Food is the number one attraction to rats. Keep all garbage cans covered. Don’t leave dog food in its bag. Transfer the dog food to plastic or steel containers with covers. The best way to prevent rats in your fruit trees is to keep them from entering the home where they can jump to the trees. If there are holes in the perimeter of the home, stick steel wool into the holes.

Signs of Infestation

Before you see an actual rat, you’ll be able to see evidence of an infestation. Rats like to hide during the day. They’ll come out at night, which makes it harder to detect rats until there’s more than one in the home. As well as a carrier for disease, rats are incredibly destructive to the home. Their nesting and feeding habits can ruin buildings.

One of the first signs of an infestation is teeth marks or holes in food boxes. You might also see rat droppings that are banana shaped and larger than mice droppings. Rats will nest in high spaces like lofts and attics to sleep during the day. They’ll travel at night. That travel will be marked by dirty places on wood where they have rubbed against it.

In the home, it’s easier to see an infestation. Fruit tree infestation is hard to notice until the fruit has begun to ripen. Once it’s ready to be picked, you’ll be able to see small holes and hollow fruit where the rats have climbed in and eaten the interior.

Regular Pruning
Preventing and ridding the trees of rats includes pruning the trees to keep them from touching anything else. Normally, rats like to stay off the ground. They’ll head to the top of poles, homes and other trees to the fruit tree. If you don’t allow the fruit tree’s branches to touch anything else, you can avoid rats in the tree.

Spacing the Trees
If you haven’t planted your trees yet, you should keep them spaced out properly to ensure that they won’t grow too close together. For trees already planted, you might consider uprooting and moving one to avoid them touching. Branches that touch allow rats to run from tree to tree.

Rat Guards on the Trunks
Sheets of metal can be wrapped around the trunks of the fruit trees to keep rats from climbing into the tree from the ground. This should only be used after trimming. Branches that are touching wires, the home or other trees will allow the rats to travel in that way instead.

Trapping Rats
You don’t want to use any poisons for the rats because that poison will be too near to your fruit trees. It can also harm other animals like pets or birds. If you notice a rat path because of the dirt trail they leave behind, you can add a trap to that location. If it’s outdoors, place a covering over the trap to ensure it’s not a lure for birds who will get killed in the trap.

Biological Prevention
Another good way to rid your fruit trees of rats is to use other animals. Rat snakes are great for keeping the rat population away from your trees. The snakes will feast on any rodents in the area while leaving the fruit alone. Attracting owls or raptors are good for ridding the area of rats as long as you keep the ground clear for the predators to see their prey from the sky.

Rats can be a serious danger to the health of human beings as well as a serious danger to the fruit trees. They can cost you thousands in ruined fruit and the home’s structure as well as the health concerns of having rats.

Valerie is a contributing writer for Cascade Tree Works.  In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors.

11 thoughts on “5 Ways for Keeping Rats Away from Fruit Trees

  • How come cats are not mentioned in the biological prevention section of this article?

    • Rob Creane

      Cats are great mousers and “ratters” but as rats and mice are active at night so are Owls, Coyotes and Rattlesnakes. The hunter can become the prey.

  • James Guthridge

    Geat to know this

  • treeservicesalexandriava.com

    Great article!

  • Thanks for telling me that seeing holes in food boxes that look like teeth marks is an obvious sign that I have rodents around the house. I initially saw them in our cereals and I’m worried that they might try to go after baby food next. It might be better to hire rodent removal services as early as now before they become a more serious health risk.

    • Cindy Swanson

      The problem with exterminators is that most of them use rat poison, even though they may deny it. If they use the word “bait,” know that it’s probably a euphemism for poison.

      Poison is a cruel, inhumane, and irresponsible means of extermination. It causes death from internal hemorrhaging – an excruciating death over a period of several days. It also causes the death of other creatures: hawks, owls, and other raptors, cats, dogs, and anything else that might even nibble on the rat.

  • I’ve had a lot of luck trapping rats with the Atomic Barbie cage-style traps. You can then relocate (or dispatch) the rodents.

  • Hi.
    I have fruit trees including passion fruit which they seem to love along with the pomegranates. They don’t even get to the purple stage before the guts have been ripped out. My dog goes nuts at night around the area. How can I get rid of these little cretins without using baits?. Is this indicative of rats or cockies? We have both in our area.

  • Thank you for this article! It’s true that rats could be a serious danger to the health of human beings as well as a serious danger to the fruit trees.. As a citizen of Quincy ma, we often cut back vines and shrubs which could give the rats some places to hide themselves. And we think every homeowner should choose a tree care provider and consider their beneficial for all since some plants and trees make wonderful homes to attract rats. Anyway, many thanks for your advice

  • I plan to use wire mesh to surround the fruit tree. How small a mesh do I need t keep rats out?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to listen highlighted text!