Protecting Fruit Trees From Rats

Fruit trees and their fruits are prone to being a meal to rats. There are several approaches a homeowner or perhaps a farmer can do to help prevent or eliminate the fruit trees from being disturbed by the rodents. Determining if your fruit is being eaten by a rat is fairly easy. Much of the fruit that rats will eat can be found on the ground and will appear to hollowed-out. Watermelons, cantaloupes, and papaya are found with circular holes about the size of a quarter or half-dollar where the rat chewed through.

Rats and other rodents are not as easily controlled with sprays or products like tradition pest control for insects. There are necessary actions that should be performed to act like a pest control service. It will likely take several steps to effectively eliminate those pesky rats. Integrated pest management is a method of embracing numerous control strategies in order to ensure the rodent or pest is eliminated. The most common rat that will disturb fruit trees is the “roof rat”, a.k.a. fruit rat. According to the University of Florida, the roof rat is the worst rodent and also the most common. Fortunately, it is possible remove the rodents from the landscape without hiring the experts.

Fruit Rat Prevention

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Here are some integrated pest management strategies a homeowner or farmer can take in order to keep rats from eating their fruits:

  • Keep your fruit trees pruned and trimmed so they are about 2 to 3 feet away from any other structure. Isolate the fruit trees so they will not touch the house, fence, roof, or other structures nearby.

  • Utilize a metal guard around the base of the tree. Some homeowners have used items like sheet metal that can bend easily and endure the weather fairly well. Wrapping the base of your fruit tree about two feet up from the base will deter the rats from climbing up the truck of the tree.

  • All fruit tree owners are aware that, many times, fruit may fall in a heavy storm with lots of wind, or when the fruit is over-ripe. Keep the ground and landscape clear of any edible debris. Clean up fallen fruits and constantly check for fruit on the tree that may be ready to pick to help deter rats. Leaving fruit on the tree for too long after they are ready to be picked can attract rats. Be sure to pick your fruit immediately to keep rats from picking them for you!

  • Rats are easily lured into traps with the right bait. Placing rat traps or bait boxes near the fruit trees can help catch some rats, allowing you to dispose of them off your property. Rat traps or bait boxes can be used with bacon, Slim-Jims, dried fruits, or even peanut butter. Positioning traps under the tree and tied to the branches will provide the best results.

If you are unlucky with the results after attempting the integrated pest management strategies to prevent the rats from your fruit trees, contact a local pest control company and inquire about more advanced approaches to keep rats away.


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