Sunday, October 6, 2013

Vole Defense!

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 also
contains 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: 

Rodent Baits:  Killing voles is desirable, before they over-run you, but this is a touchy subject because rodent baits can also affect other animals, like neighborhood cats and dogs.  The common rodent bait that you find in most stores is an anti-coagulant poison, which, when eaten a couple of times, stays in the intestines, causes massive internal bleeding and kills the animal.  I used it in my rose beds for years, without thinking, until about five years ago when we got a new kitten and he managed to find a mouse or vole that had eaten it, in among the winter-protected roses.  I will save you the terrible details, but it resulted in a very large emergency veterinary bill to save this humane society kitty and, fortunately, he is still with us (but he used two or three of his nine lives on that one).

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!

1 comment:

  1. Voles beware at the Falker residence. I've seen Crackie in action! Great article again Jack.