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Who Ate My Plants?! Thoughts on Rodent Damage

Catherine Nickelson | Horticulturist | B.S. Horticulture, University of Minnesota | ISA Certified Arborist
Posted 06/07/2018

Rodents are an order of mammals with a large pair of continually growing front teeth. This includes mice, squirrels, voles, gophers, beavers, capybaras, and many others. Some of whom have a voracious appetite for everything beautifully growing in your garden. Rabbits have these same characteristics, continuously growing front teeth and desire for garden plants, but they are not taxonomically considered rodents as rabbits possess four incisors rather than two. However, for the purposes of this discussion we will consider rodents and rabbits together and classify the plant injury each of these mammals cause as rodent damage. Rodent damage is the injury inflicted when mice, voles, squirrels, gophers, or rabbits gnaw on or consume parts or all of a plant. These pests go after the plants for food and to wear down their teeth preventing them from growing too long. Rodents and rabbits target a wide range of species including woody plants, turf, and herbaceous plants (perennials); the damage caused can range from fatal to insignificant but with careful planning and maintenance the issue of rodent damage can be managed.

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