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Finally a vole eating predator makes a serious impact in my garden!  RSS feed

 
gardener
Posts: 2348
Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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This spring I was surprised by the very few voles that were present.  Normally I see them as I work in the garden, darting or hopping or otherwise moving very quickly out of my way and into their huge network of tunnels in my permanent raised beds.  This spring, and as summer progressed, I hardly saw any.  I had a sneaking suspicion that I had gained a very efficient predator, and I figured that it was a small one, like a weasel that could get under the snow and hit them in the winter domain.  

Today as I was turning my massive compost heap, I was visited by the likely culprit, a tiny extremely fast moving weasel.  He spent about ten minutes darting around me, stopping occasionally to have a long look at me in a head tilting manner that seemed to say that he was curious about me. I kept stopping and talking to him, and then he would dive into a tunnel in my equally massive hay stack that is right beside where I was working and then pop up out of another hole and then run so fast in my peripheral vision that I thought it was a bird in flight.  He had no fear of me, probably because I'm the only one around that he has seen, I don't act aggressively around him, and he's so dang fast.  Pretty freakin cool.  And very welcome.  
 
Posts: 60
Location: Durham, NC
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That's very cool.  They are moderately smart.  It would be great if your new friend got comfortable with you and hung out.
 
gardener
Posts: 1553
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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Nice! I have a bunch running around my place at the moment. Saw a couple young coyotes trying to catch them but not having much luck. I hope a weasel shows up at my place!

How long have you been having vole problems?
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser River Headwaters, Zone3, Lat: 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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The raised bed garden has been in effect for 4 years, but the first year there was no serious vole issue.  It was only after they discovered the heavy mulch, and the loose soil no doubt, that they really took off.  I have seen a weasel (with the same curious nature) up in other parts of my property (where I have a lot of stuff stored up on pallets-creating a great habitat for him), but I'm guessing there was enough mice and voles and such for it there that it took a while for him to exhaust that area's food sources.  Or this is another weasel who arrived from another locale and has a similar curious nature.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 542
Location: 6a
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I hope I get a predator to take care of my mouse problem.  I didn't think about the issues of ringing a hugel mound with logs.  I have a mouse condo going.  It's amazing how much damage mice and small rats can make.  Maybe I will get a weasel in the house.  
 
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Where my brother lives in Mexico, people harass and kill the snakes. He has piles of debris where snakes are welcome. The neighbors deal with plagues of underground rodents. Snakes migrate into my brother's place and rodents are either eaten or they migrate out.

My hugel mounds have become the wintering grounds for many snakes. They can be seen lying on the south face shortly after the sun comes up. I've never seen a rodent in this area.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Snakes migrate into my brother's place and rodents are either eaten or they migrate out.

I too have snakes... and owls, and foxes, and coyotes, and all of these and others eat voles, mice, and other rodents, but they don't set up house and stay in my garden and deal with the bigger problem.  They all seem alright with eating a bit and then letting the population explode to fill it's own void again, and then eating a bit more.  The weasel has a whole other strategy.  From what I understand, they hang out and eat themselves out of an area, and then move on, and by the time it returns, some time in the distant future, the population is able to sustain it's crazy metabolism again.  Hopefully, it wont' get that bad next time around. The weasel looks really healthy!      
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Maybe I will get a weasel in the house.  

hunting ferets were suggested to me to deal with my 'gopher' issue. These are actually Rocky Mountain Ground Squirrels, but everyone calls them gophers around here.
 
pollinator
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Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Weasels will absolutely eat the ground squirrels, but they are murder on chickens. They will kill them for fun. Little ones are fine, we had some bigger ones that were problematic in that way.
 
Scott Foster
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Where my brother lives in Mexico, people harass and kill the snakes. He has piles of debris where snakes are welcome. The neighbors deal with plagues of underground rodents. Snakes migrate into my brother's place and rodents are either eaten or they migrate out.

My hugel mounds have become the wintering grounds for many snakes. They can be seen lying on the south face shortly after the sun comes up. I've never seen a rodent in this area.



Snakes would be nice.  Whenever I dig a hole I use the rocks to build cairns.  No snakes yet, maybe next year.  I am seeing little tree frogs so maybe snakes are next.  I have dogs that will dig a hole to China so that may be an issue.
 
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