The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 12

Q: What do I do about squirrels, cats, deer, etc?

A: I read notices on the carnivorous plant discussion group and in my e-mailbox about very interesting and amusing woes people have, where their plants are being killed by mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, cats, dogs, birds, deer, or other such critters.

In such cases the "critters" are referred to as " $%@#&* varmints."

Here is some difficult but honest news for you. As soon as an animal has decided that something you have is worth screwing up, you have already lost the battle. This is particularly true when you are dealing with wild or feral animals. It is very frustrating when some little (or not so little) varmints are killing your plants, and there are many people who capitalize on your frantic search for solutions. Look in any large gardening catalog to see what I mean. These companies are very willing to sell you a plethora of mostly useless devices. Do not waste your money on them.

Do you really think that planting Euphorbia lathyris (sold as "gopher spurge") would frighten gophers away from your garden? Hah hah hah hah!

Similarly, misled but kindly gardeners ("master" or otherwise) may try to convince you they have some strange "olde tyme" solution for you. Some of these tricks may include bags of human hair, bags of soap, white or shiny mylar flags waving in the wind, blood meal, zoo-doo (bags of poop from lions, etc., from the zoo!), electrical fences, noise generators, blah blah blah. You are wasting your money.

Reality check! While you spend perhaps a few hours on the weekend setting up some kind of animal barrier, your animal adversaries have all day, all week, all month to ponder their next move.

While you are at work, they are trying to figure how to destroy your plants.

While you are motivated by an esoteric interest in growing plants, the animals are motivated by simple hunger or need of bedding material, etc. Their drive is stronger and more compelling.

Face it, you are screwed. The clever primate tricks you construct to keep them at bay may work for a short time, but eventually the varmints will sneak past them and nibble your plants to death (or at least, do whatever the varmint is doing that has gotten you so mad).

Furthermore, if your method of animal protection actually works for a while, you will get a sense of false confidence. You will start growing even more plants. The attracting power of your botanical Eden produces will increase, and eventually your animalian foe will be unable to resist the seductive delights of your garden. They will come.

Oh yes, they will come.

Listen to me. The only thing that will work is total exclusion. This means you must build a fenced exclosure around your carnivorous plants. Go to building supply houses to find something effective. Build it carefully, build it well. It must be an unassailable defense for your plants. Do not forget to put a fenced top on it, too. (I know someone who uses discarded bird cages.)

If you do not build such a cage, you will have one of those days when you come home to find terrible things have happened. You will rail against the heavens. You will wish you followed my advice. But you did not. You cut corners. You saved time.

Too bad.

Page citations: Rice, B.A. 2006a; personal observation.

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Revised: 2018
©Barry Rice, 2018