Bulb planting with rat taupier protection

This could be the mole rat equivalent of putting out bird food.

I’m bulb planting.  A nice normal autumnal activity you might think.  But when you have mole rats in the garden, then it’s a battle of skills and will.

I know people complain about squirrels grubbing up their bulbs.  But my wily critters are much more voracious.

And no, I haven’t learned my lesson.  Earlier this week I planted up the red pots at the very back of the potager.  And the very next day they had been ransacked.

I’m going to spare you an oversized picture here: but here is the grubbed up pot.

I thought I was being clever in placing the bulbs inside a plastic pot and plunging that into the soil.

‘Good thinking, 99’ (As Max would say in Get Smart).  Except I didn’t think to cover the top to stop the creatures going in over the top.

In this pot, there is the little package left behind.  Mole rat poo.pooinpot

But naturally the curious part of me thought: I wonder if there is a website where I can compare the spoor of this creature to some of the mole rat which I assumed was the villain.

I started in the traditional way:


But that didn’t help.  After all, these creatures will excrete what they eat and that is a very varied diet.  I suspected that whatever climbed into my pot to munch on the tulips had started with that fun thing of dessert first.  There were half eaten figs right beside the pot.

mysterypooAnd then my search got silly (werewolf symbols are in here too) http://galleryhip.com/mole-droppings-identification.html

So I went into the French websites to see what rat taupier would reveal. And boy is there a group of farmers up in arms (or not as you can’t kill em) about the creature. It is devastating whole farming areas in the Cantal region.

They did some great pictures of the actual rat. But not the droppings. And after a while I was so disgusted with my search that I wandered off to have a cup of tea and eat cake.


Un rat taupier dans un champ le 27 avril 2016 à Allanche / AFP#

There is even a facebook group ‘Luttes contre les rats taupiers’ where I took this rather natty picture.



So I just gave up.  The sight of so many vile looking rats was making me queasy.  I decided that the physical barrier is the only way to go.


I have this part of the lavender bank which isn’t working as I had hoped.  I planted it up with more lavenders to make the whole bank (hundreds of lavenders) balanced.   That was a few years back I think.  But the plants on the upper tier are so floriferous they shaded out the plants below.

tulippotSo out came the ailing lavenders (I transplanted them in the shade garden bank) and I buried about 100 tulip bulbs. All in their pots, and buried nice and deep.

tulipplantingSo far there is no mole or mole rat activity in the bed. Does the scent of lavender put them off? It was making me a bit woozy just working nearby.

I have marked the pots with the names of the tulips – those are the strange stick like protuberances you see in all that lovely weed free dirt.

And then I put an old door (from the original chicken shed which I never threw away) that has a wire mesh inside the frame over the top.

It’s not as narrow as chicken wire.  But it is all I have right now.  No doubt I will stalk about the rabbit hutches down on the lower terraces to see if there are any rolls of chicken wire that have been chucked inside the cages.  Our previous owners never willingly threw away a roll of wire, and for once I am grateful.  Or maybe I’ll have to go and invest in some more.


I suspect they will only have 50 metre rolls of the stuff.  After all, we French gardeners have to think like farmers when it comes to mole rat protection. Think big. Form self help groups. Lobby the government.   I’ll be wrapping all my pots and the newly planted cutting garden beds in the stuff as soon as I can.

But naturally I need to hide all the effort too. It is not a pretty sight. So I covered the wire with a thick mulch of leaves and call this bed planted up.

I’ll be up early tomorrow to check and see if they have burrowed under the wire.   And if they have, I will be Very Cross Indeed.