Well folks, if there's anyone who has a good proven non poisonous method of controlling our burrowing friends, I could use some suggestions.
After a major brush fire went through the place three years ago the rodent population went nuts, the cats have slowed down the rats and mice to a dull roar but the gophers and ground squirrels have wrecked havoc with everything I've planted.
Often waiting till the night before I go to harvest, I feel the need to get this issue handled before I plant anything and not keen on poison that may effect the predators that are just starting to come back.
How do you train a ferret for rodent control?
Answer: The ferret is a carnivorous (meat eating) mammal of genus Mustela of the Mustelidae family including the domestic ferret and an endangered species, the Black-footed Ferret. For hundreds of years, the main use of domestic ferrets was for hunting called "ferreting". Ferrets have a long, lean body, with an inquisitive nature, that makes them very well equipped for getting down holes and chasing rodents and rabbits out of their burrows and nests.
For centuries ferrets have been used for rodent, mice and rat extermination and control. Ferrets have a natural instinct to hunt and kill rodents. One time I had a baby rat trapped and showed to my ferret, she immediately grabbed by the back of the neck and killed it in one bite.
Just read an account in Farm Show mag where someone as a kid on a farm kept ferrets for rats and rabbits. The description was that his father showed them the animal holes at about 5 mo of age, and most took right to it. He said gentle seeming ferrets would change when going to hunt, that they were sent in pairs, and he kept them in practice out of rabbit season with rats and mice. The rabbits they would flush out and shoot, they seemed to do that with rats outdoors as well, but they seemed able to kill rats, and chase them into holes, especially the smaller females.
I know a lady who rescued ferrets that were no longer wanted as pets...could be worth looking into and having a few neutered/spayed ferrets of your own as they seem a little more suited to going into dens for larger rodents.
Here's a video of men using ferrets to clear out rabbit warrens:
I've taken to planting all the important trees and shrubs in chickenwire baskets. Hopefully the roots will establish by the time the wire rusts through and they will withstand the insult. Larger plants don't seem as bothered. When the squirrels got bad last summer running off with tomatoes I started live-trapping them and either drowning or shooting them in the trap. Must have got 20 in the course of the summer.
Observation tells me that in this tight clay soil, their burrows are actually pretty valuable for air and water infiltration into the soil.
Thanks folks, I recently built a live trap based on one I saw at the feed store ($85.00) $5.00 worth of hardware cloth and an hour or so and I feel like I might have a chance with these little buggers this year, have trapped 10 so far (ground squirrels). The pocket gophers, the rodenator sounds fun but not that practical for my gardens, am inclined to build a wind powered "Thumper" or two and see if the constant drumming will convince them to leave the area?
We'll see, I'll post pics and results as I go
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit