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Rat/squirrel rodent damage

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NDengineer

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What deterrent have you found successful against rats, squirrels and other rodents eating your grapes?

For the second year in a row now they have eaten every last ripe grape off my 20 vines of marquette and traminette. One day the grapes are not yet ripe, and a few days later they are all gone. I have had insect netting totally encompassing the rows to keep japanese beetles off, and pinned together underneath to keep the rodents out. Last year the raccoons ate everything, but I tied it up the netting tighter this year, and it looks like just rats and squirrels got in by climbing up the trunks. Any suggestions?
 

wood1954

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I poison or shoot the chipmunks, my dogs kill anything they can get hold of. The poison works the best, I put It in homemade containers to keep the dogs and any other predators away from it. Do you keep an area around your vineyard mowed? I think an open area gives hawks a shot at the critters also.
my neighbor wraps his birdhouse posts with electric fence to keep squirrels away. If you don’t have dogs big rat traps baited with peanut butter will kill chipmunks as well.
 

KevinL

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For Chipmunks, I recommend taking a 5 gallon bucket and filling it up 1/3 of the way with water, covering the water with black oil sunflower seeds, and then leaning a plank up to this bucket. You can typically get 2-3 each set, depending on your chipmunk population. I've caught up to 5 in a single bucket over night. I'm not sure if this type of trap is effective on rats.

Wiping out that many vines in a single night sounds more like the work of Raccoons than of smaller vermin. I've found they almost always find a way to get into the nets themselves and then crawl around and stuff themselves. Depending on laws in your area they will need to be trapped and dispatched, or (as in my vineyard) they'll need to have tragic accidents. Depending on your set up, I've been told that electric fences are effective defense if you can fit one in.

I've never had much if any damage from squirrels, and I have a lot of them. They tend to be in the grapes hiding black walnuts which they intend to consume over the winter, but usually eating the grapes is reserved for Raccoons, Possums and birds.
 

NDengineer

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Thanks for the input. No, I do not have a dog, though I'm sure that would help!

CO is pretty restrictive on trapping vermin, but I still get dozens each year. However, I still see rat/squirrel/raccoon activity most nights in our gardens and around our chickens. I may need to try more daily monitoring of grape ripeness once they're getting close, and then take some extra precautions for a few days. Hopefully I can avoid the night shift!
 

Lando545

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I live out in the country, lots of woods and places for rats and raccoons to live and I've never had an issue with them. But I also have three dogs. My biggest issue is that wild cotton tails would come in the night and chew my vines in half so a little hardware cloth fixed that. But yea get a dog bro. Since you have chickens i would start out with a puppy instead of maybe a shelter dog or just another Adult Dog because they will kill all of your chickens. Now the puppy might take interest in the chickens but if you catch the behavior and correct it in time you can raise it with chickens no problem.
 
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@KevinL thank you for the bucket trap idea. I went out today to check the Brix of my concords (Only at 13) and probably a quarter of the grapes are gone with some fruit drop as well. I covered the vines (10 in all) with netting because of bird activity last week. If this doesn’t work I’ll setup an electric fence. I haven’t seen any raccoons around, but who knows. The vines are in their third and fourth year so there are only about 20 small clusters to begin with. Oh yeah... We have a dog, a hound mix. Not interested in anything smaller than a cat, and only mildly curious at that. Here’s hoping...
 
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So I went back out after posting the last reply, and squirrels were all over them. Had to harvest. I froze them (the grapes not the squirrels... although...) until I can start my mix this weekend. I’m guessing I’ll have to add more sugar to the must. Wish they were on longer....
 

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