Some animal has stripped the bark off branches on my large bougainvillea. What animal would cause this damage and how can I protect the plant?

Roof rats like to hide and build nests in dense vines, shrubs and trees, especially bougainvillea, climbing ivy and ornamental fig.  The rodents damage plants by cutting off small twigs at a 45 degree angle and by chewing bark on branches.  Roof rats are often found in urban landscapes where there is adequate food, water and shelter.  Information on roof rats and how to control them can be obtained from the County of San Diego vector control program, phone 858.694.2888 or http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/deh/pests/vector_disease.html  .  To discourage roof rats from nesting in dense plants, thin the canopy by removing selected branches. Also, eliminate sources of water and food in the landscape.  Pick fruit and nuts as soon as they are ready to harvest and dispose of fruit that has dropped to the ground.  You can use traps or poison bait to control rats, but be careful how they are used to avoid harming children, pets and non-target wildlife.  For more information, see UC Pest Note 74106 – Rats. http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74106.html

By V. Lazaneo, Urban Horticulture Advisor, Emeritus, UC Cooperative Extension,

September 2012

 

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