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Pest Guide – Rats and Mice

Pest Guide: Rats and Mice

Rodents, including rats and mice, are scavengers, which means they aren’t very picky about their food. Although they’re more commonly found in and around residential households munching on garbage, and if that source of food runs out, they’re known to seek out gardens and crops. Unfortunately, that sometimes leads them to find cannabis plants growing in an outdoor garden or larger high cbd hemp seed farm.

What Are Rats and Mice?

Just about every grower or farmer has seen at least a few rats and mice in his or her life, but few give them much thought unless they’re inside of living areas. These critters are able to compress their bodies to fit through surprisingly small holes, so those growing pot from seed indoors are not immune to the damage rodents can cause.

Both rats and mice have long, sharp teeth designed not just for chewing food but also for altering their environments. They can chew through wood, plastic, and, in the case of rats, even concrete, so few spaces are completely safe from rodent infestations. Both rats and mice need to consume around 1/3 of their body weight in food each day, so once they’ve gotten into a grow room or an outdoor crop, they can cause a lot of damage.

For those who have never seen a rat or a mouse in person, it’s important to recognize that they don’t all look just like the giant sewer rats seen in movies or the tiny white feeder mice found in pet stores. All rats and mice have fur covering the majority of their bodies, with the exception of their tails, but that fur can have a surprising range of colors. The bottom line is that if nobody in the household has a pet rat, mouse, or gerbil, any small, furry rodent with a long tail has probably made its way into the grow room from outside and it does not belong there.

Signs of Rodents

These small pests live in dark holes and they’re great at sneaking around, so it’s rare to see them just hanging out in a grow room in the middle of the day. Their nocturnal nature and preference for sneaking around in the dark makes them difficult to spot, but that doesn’t mean growers shouldn’t be on the lookout for signs of rodent infestations in and around their crops.

Bite Marks

The first sign most growers notice is tooth marks on the stalks of their cherry pie og strain or lambs bread plant. Since rats and mice have continuously growing teeth, they love to keep them filed down by chewing on marijuana stalks. They’re also known to consume other parts of the plants, including newly developing and fully matured buds.

No grower wants to share his or her crop with pests of any sort, but somehow, finding full bites taken out of otherwise perfect buds just feels like adding insult to injury. Keep an eye out for signs of damage like broken or chewed up stalks and stems throughout the grow cycle and deal with rodent infestations as quickly as possible to avoid losing part of the crop.

Rodent Droppings

Rodents aren’t any pickier about where they eliminate than they are about what they eat. As a result, growers may find tiny mouse or rat droppings in or around their plants. Rat droppings are slightly larger than mouse droppings, but they’re roughly similar in shape and color. Look for tiny, dark brown, oval-shaped droppings. If they’re dark and wet looking, they’re relatively new. Rodent droppings dry out over time, so finding them can give growers an idea of how long their unwanted guests have been around.

Rat Trails

Rats and mice both form tiny trails on the floor between their food sources and their shelters. Look near the edges of walls. If the dust is disturbed, but only across a tiny space about the width of a rodent, there’s a good chance one or more rats are to blame. These rodents may also have formed nests or colonies nearby, which are easier to identify. Since rats are prolific breeders, there’s almost never just one rat, though, so assume the worst and start taking action toward precluding them from the grow room or eliminating them entirely immediately.

How to Prevent Mice and Rats

Since rats and mice only eat marijuana buds and chew through stems as a last resort, they’re unlikely to destroy anyone’s crop completely, nor are they likely to come after your stash of un-germinated seeds. Outdoor growers actually have less to worry about when it comes to rodents. Their populations are controlled by natural predators like owls, hawks, and other carnivorous birds, especially in gardens where they won’t be protected by ground cover or find good hiding spots nearby. If a mouse or rat should enter your greenhouse, they get full reign over your plants without fear of being caught by a predatory bird.

Preventative Steps to Take Indoors

The easiest way to keep rats and mice out of both indoor and outdoor crops is to ensure that they don’t have a comfortable place to live and scavenge for food. Keep a tight lid on the compost bucket and make sure to keep kitchen scraps away from the garden, whether it’s outdoors or indoors. It’s also wise to purchase a garbage bin that has a tightly fitted lid and use it consistently.

Don’t focus just on the grow room. Rats and mice can both pose serious health problems when introduced into residential environments, too, so it’s best to preclude them entirely from the home. Plus, if rodents find the occasional tasty treat in the kitchen or another living area, they’ll be more likely to stick around and eventually discover the room where you keep your blooming alien gorilla weed or silver haze strain plants.

Preventative Steps to Take Outdoors

Pet owners and homesteaders who keep livestock should clean out their animals’ food bowls on a regular basis. This goes for both indoor dog bowls and outdoor animal troughs, especially when goats, chickens, or other livestock are kept near the marijuana crop. This helps to prevent problems not just with rats, but also with ants, squirrels, and even raccoons.

Other sources of mouse and rat foods to look out for outdoors include things like fallen fruit, vegetables, and nuts, and animal droppings. Rats, in particular, are known to eat the droppings of other animals, and both rats and mice will be more than willing to munch on garden vegetables that people would consider fully spoiled. They’ll also be happy to pilfer bird feeders found too low to the ground, so those who don’t have pets or gardens may still be inviting rodents into their yards, homes, and crops just by trying to attract some local birds to the yard.

It’s best to remove debris from the areas around outdoor gardens, as well. Rodents can use fallen trees, branches, and piles of leaves as hiding spots to avoid predators. Getting rid of them will make the rats or mice feel much less comfortable exploring the garden and eating valuable crops.

Get a Cat

No, really. Avoid all the hassles of rat traps and killing cute little fuzzy mice and just go adopt a kitten. Cats start catching prey at just a few months old and will continue scaring off the rodents well into old age. It’s a worthwhile investment.

Adopting a cat is an almost sure-fire way to prevent mice and rats from coming around. Cats are great at catching and killing these and other rodents in both indoor and outdoor environments, but often, that’s not even necessary. If rodents smell a cat in or around a garden or grow room, chances are, they won’t be coming any closer to investigate, to begin with. Just make sure you don’t allow your cat to defecate near your high thc plants or budding

cbd strain seeds, as this can introduce toxins or excess Nitrogen to the soil.

How to Get Rid of Mice and Rats

Some growers may be tempted to go out and buy a ton of rat poison. That’s not the ideal solution for getting rid of even substantial infestations, though. Poisoning rats can endanger local predators. If the poison takes effect while the target rodents are still inside the grow room or another area of the home, it can also create a huge hassle for its residents. There are better solutions.

Traditional Rat and Mouse Traps

Traditional rat and mouse traps are made of wood and wire. They feature a small platform for bait, which is attached to a metal bar loaded onto springs. When the rodent takes the bait, it releases the bar and crushes the hapless animal.

When using rat and mouse traps, place them along known rodent trails. They should be facing the wall and should be loaded with delicious treats. Cheese or a small scoop of peanut butter are popular choices. Rat and mouse traps are a pretty reliable way of catching and killing rodents without endangering the environment.

Alternative Traps

Sticky traps operate under the same basic principle. The user places bait in the center of the trap. That bait is surrounded by glue. When the rodent goes for the bait, it gets stuck in the glue and can’t escape. Sticky traps aren’t for the faint of heart, though. Since the rats and mice are caught live, the catcher will be responsible for disposing of them.

You can also purchase more humane ‘catch and release’ traps that will allow you to relocate your apprehended vermin and release them elsewhere far away from your cannabis crop. If you are a handy person, you can find plans online to make one of these yourself. The upside of this is that they don’t have to die for the sake of your marijuana plant’s safety. The downside is that they may eventually return to your garden, bringing more friends with them!

The Bottom Line

When most growers think of pests, their minds immediately conjure up images of insects. Rats and mice can be just as problematic, though, albeit in different ways. They can eat buds, chew through stalks, and cause unexpected damage to both indoor and outdoor crops at any point in their life cycles. The best way to deal with rodent infestations is to prevent them by using the advice offered above.