If you grow potatoes in the ground, you could find yourself facing damage from mice every now and then. These little animals love to dig through soil in search of potato tubers. And when they find one, they eat it until they’re satisfied. This can lead to serious losses as your potatoes will have either a few bite marks or half of the them missing.
A mouse is a small rodent with a furry round body, pointed nose, large ears and a long, often hairless, tail. Field mice typically make a burrow underground that helps protect them from predators – birds, cats and wild dogs. Because mice are nocturnal, you won’t see them during the day when they sleep.
Mice can reproduce very quickly. It actually only takes three weeks for it to reach adult size, and it can have a litter of babies each month. Mice don’t usually live in large colonies. However, if food choices are scarce, they will turn to potatoes. They also love to nestle and dig under the straw that many potato growers use to mulch their beds.
Signs Of Potato Damage
Marks that look like two short, side-by-side lines carved into the flesh of your potato tubers, are usually mouse bite marks. Sometimes you’ll even find half the potato missing. It’s easy to identify the mouse as the culprit because the damage will be visible on the exterior.
If you only discover mice are eating your potatoes at harvest time, there’s not much you can do as the growing season has ended. However, this helps you prepare yourself for the next planting season. Once a population of mice has found a good home, it stays nearby from year to year.
You can also look for evidence of mice after planting. This can be quarter-sized holes in the ground with no loose soil piled around them; trail patterns on the surface of the soil where the mice entered and exited the potato patch. Also, sometimes they carry their food so, you’ll find small, young potatoes at the surface of the soil with bite marks on them.
While crop rotation does help, it certainly isn’t a complete control method, because mice can travel a good distance to find their favorite foods. Your best bet is to trap them with mice or rat traps.
How to get rid of mice
Set mouse traps
You need to bait rat or mouse traps with peanut butter and set in the potato patch at night. Continue to set the traps every evening until you go five to six nights in a row without catching a mouse.
Definitely not for witchcraft. Owls and other birds of prey enjoy catching mice and, so making and hanging a few screech owl nest boxes is a good idea.
Use castor oil
Another option to deter mice is to use a castor oil-based granular repellent in the area.
Castor oil- 2 tbsp
Plastic bowl – 1
Liquid dish washing soap- 6 tbsp
Tabasco sauce- 1 tsp
Water- 1 quart
In a plastic bowl, take 2 tbsp of castor oil (use a disposable bowl or don’t use the bowl again).
Add 6 tbsp of liquid dish washing soap, and 1 tsp of Tabasco sauce to it.
Also, chop 1 garlic clove and add to the bowl.
Mix all the ingredients by adding 1 quart of water to it.
Now, place this mixture around the holes of the rats or mice.
This process can be repeated for few days to get rid of field mice.
Every time make a fresh mixture use.
Repeat this process especially after each rain to prevent mice and rats.