Considering a turn on an old saying, that a good defense begins with a good offense, I thought everyone would like to see our offensive effort to defend against voles this fall. His name is Crackie, he's a six-year old Maine Coon and, needless to say, he's a mouser.
Voles are feisty; as Crackie toyed with it, it fought back aggressively but the cat flipped it upside down and then I went to get my shovel to finish it off. Crackie didn't like me taking away his new play thing, so I had to give him some treats.
In case you missed it, here's my most recent post on vole control in the rose garden. It alsocontains two other links to vole articles I wrote last year.
One of the things I mention is that, because cats go after voles, you should be very careful to use the right kind of mouse bait to kill them. Here's a quote from my original article:
After that experience, I went to work researching what other non-coagulant rodent baits might be on the market, and I found one. The brand name is "Eraze", made by Motomco, the same company that makes the anti-coagulant baits. The active ingredient in this one is Zinc Phosphide, which is nonetheless a poison, but acts in a different way, killing small animals immediately after ingestion. There are conflicting opinions on this, but an article by Michigan State University indicates that it is less lethal to larger animals, such as cats and dogs, because their normal reaction after ingesting it would be to regurgitate it rather than digest it. There is no question that it would kill any animal if eaten in sufficient quantity, but it apparently is less dangerous because it kills the rodent and dissipates rather than staying in the animal as the anti-coagulant does, thus potentially transferring to another animal or predatory bird (owl or hawk) that might eat the dead or dying rodent, as we believe our kitten did. Note that Motomco also makes a similar product labeled as mole bait that uses Zinc Phosphide, so if you can't find Eraze, you can use the mole bait (check the label to be sure). Other companies also offer Zinc Phosphide under different brand names.
My first line of defense in controlling voles is castor oil (and Crackie). My second line of defense is zinc phosphide baits in small tin cans, carefully placed around the roses after my winter protection goes on the beds. I'm pretty sure that Crackie can't get at the cans and that, if he does bite into a dead vole, he's not likely to die from residual Zinc Phosphide in the animal.
And we don't want to hurt Crackie. He's a good kid!