When things do not go according to our plans, we tend to blame animals. Succulents in your garden are struggling, perhaps even dying as a result of root rot. Yet you think rats are eating your lovely aloes, jades, snake plants, and desert roses. Either the leaves or the roots. Is it really truth though? Do rats eat succulents, and why? And if they do so, can we prevent them from eating the plants? I will try to answer the questions on the following lines.
Before we dive into some important details, let me give you a quick answer: Rats do eat succulents, but only if they have no better food options available. Rats are renowned for their ability to survive almost anything, including nuclear war. When animals and people were dying in wars and extreme weather conditions, rats often flooded the streets. When others suffered, they seemed to go on with their life “as if nothing was happening”. We can attribute their ability to several reasons, and one of them is that they aren’t picky with food. If there’s no meat or corn or fruits to eat, they will devour almost anything, including succulent leaves and roots.
In normal conditions rats won’t eat your succulents
In a balanced ecosystem, where rats find both enough food and natural predators, they won’t touch your succulents. Rats love fresh fruits, corns, small mammals, lizards, fish, just to name a few. Plants–whether their leaves, flowers, or roots, just do not make the list of rats’ favorite dishes. That’s why you just won’t find a snake plant or aloe in a wild nature with bites from rats. The problem is though that we treat nature badly, and ecosystems do not work as they should anymore.
In many areas rats either overpopulate (lacking natural predators), or they cannot find their favorite foods (due to loss in bio-diversity and struggles and plagues many animals species and plants experience). In such conditions rats turn into survival mode and will eat just about anything, including furniture, window frames, all kinds of food stores you have at home, and, of course, the plants in your garden, including succulents. What I try to say here is that rats alone do not form the core of the problem. Rats eating succulents is a consequence of much bigger environmental problems we face on the planet.
Remedies against rats eating succulents
Anyone who had rats in their garden will tell you how hard it is to completely get rid of them. That’s because they reproduce quickly, and they are smarter than we think. A trap or remedy that works at first will stop working in a few weeks. Anyway, as with many other problems, this is more about managing it than eliminating it. Your goal is to minimize the impact on your succulents, or the number of rats in your garden in general. We know some remedies for that:
- Make sure to remove all possible hiding & nestling spaces. Rats love old piles of food, neglected compost grounds, piles of hay you haven’t touched for months or years, holes under the roof, or even thick grass and bushes. Once you take a batter care of your garden and eliminate such spots, rats will leave your succulents and seek their home elsewhere (perhaps in a garden of your neighbor :)).
- Get cats or other rat predators. Some dogs are pretty effective with rats too, but cats or foxes do the best job. In my experience having a couple of cats in a garden won’t eliminate rats completely, but it will help with their management a lot. What’s more, rats are smart animals , and as soon as they sense the presence of such predators, they will move to some other place (again it can be the garden of your neighbor :)).
- Make sure they can’t find their favorite foods at your place. Rats will sometimes eat succulents, but they won’t even stay in your yard unless they can find foods they really like, such as grains, seeds, fruits, small mammals, etc. Make sure that they do not have access to your barn, that you do not leave fruits in places where they can easily reach them, that you do not feed birds with seeds that happen to fall to the ground, or rats can reach them, and so on. As soon as the rodents realize they won’t heave a feast at your place, they will depart, seeking a better place (perhaps your neighbor is more generous :)).
- Use poison or traps as a last resort. If nothing works, and rats keep eating your succulents and other plants, you can opt for getting chemical poison or traps in a gardening store. Keep in mind though that other animals may fall for a trap as well, and in this way you may reduce the bio-diversity in your garden even further, which isn’t good for the overall health of your plants.
Rats do not prefer succulents, but when they overpopulate or struggle to find a better food, they may take a bite, or even eat the entire plant (or the roots of it, and the succulent will die as a result). Once you have rats in your garden, it isn’t easy to get rid of them completely. As you know now though, you have some remedies, and with patience and a plan, you can at least minimize the impact rodents have on your succulents. Hope it helps, and I wish you good luck!
May also interest you: Do squirrels eat succulents?