Mustelids and possums

  • I know that a few of you blokes are in rural areas so thought that I would consult the fern on these new pest killers.

    DoC are using them and endorse them. Anyone here tried one?

    I have just seen two stoats run up a Kanuka tree looking for nests and we have heaps of native birds so want to nail the fuckers. We have a standard trap with egg bait but obviously that isn't working so thought I might try an A24 killer. Probably get a possum A12 one as well.

    We do have a cat who gets a rat or rabbit everyday along with occasional baby stoat, but he can only eat so much. It is also another reason that Gareth Morgan is a moron with his anti cat stance but that is another rant. I don't want to kill the cat with this thing.

    So anyone used one? Any opinions? You lot usually have plenty of those...

  • I don't know much about them but they look great! Buy one!!

    I nearly killed myself serving to get a stoat recently. Missed too which annoyed me.

    Hatiest animals!!

  • @Hooroo said in Mustelids and possums:

    I don't know much about them but they look great! Buy one!!

    I nearly killed myself serving to get a stoat recently. Missed too which annoyed me.

    Hatiest animals!!

    haha, I've swerved in an attempt to get the little fluffybunnies too, but they are fast and small.

    When we were renting which was amid native forest with Kiwis, I was mighty proud when my cat bought home a stoat!

  • I guess you could easily test before you set it to see whether your cat has anything more than a passing interest in the bait smell.

    I'd imagine the entry hole will be too small for a cat's head - but, you could test that too....

    Seems like they've given plenty of attention to pet-proofing them - I reckon the bigger question is whether they'll attract and catch what you want. At the price, you'd hope so.

    As a minor side-note - peanut butter is the best bait I've found for rats and mice.

  • @Chris-B. dead mice is also good for rats...only problem is, this means the mouse has set off the trap and the rat eats the mouse and first couple of traps I made a rookie error and didn't tie the traps to something and they disappeared, I found one months later with a mouse skeleton in it about 10m from where I set it, yet to find the other.

  • Was going to follow @Hooroo's advice and just get one. Called Hunting and Fishing who are the agents around here and they have sold out! So someone is using them apart from DoC.

    @Chris-B Yeah will have to do tests. They use a rabbit based bait which is a bit unfortunate as cat eats rabbit a lot. Hole on the A24 too small for cat not sure about the possum one.

    They do seem to have it worked out but as you say for $200 it would be good to know how effective they are.Stouts apparently follow the same paths most of the time so you put out the bait cards and see if they get nibbled them put the trap there.

    I will get one next week when back in stock and report when I have injured myself with it, caught something, caught nothing, or killed the cat.

  • Actually if I don't report back it will be because I have killed the cat and wife will be feeding me to rats and stoats.

  • @taniwharugby Rats will also cannibalise their friends once they're trapped and dead. That's my usual way of telling when I'm getting close to having the rats eradicated (that and when you can't hear them in the ceiling any more)!

    Of course, for the latter you can never be sure it's not Captain Howdy in which case a priest may be more use than a rat trap! 🙂

  • @Chris-B.

    Yeah we don't have an issue with rats in our house, caught a fair few mice, although not for many months.

    Surprisingly, when we had a few rats in spring, and they lived in the flax by my chickens, they weren't stealing eggs, so guess they had a decent food source from somewhere.

  • @taniwharugby Re Rats - Got any palm trees around? Pheonix in particular I think. A mate is a gardener and he said they are basically rat nests. Not sure if they can eat them but certainly like living in there. The neighbour has one and our cat just sits there and waits for a snack.

    We don't lose chook eggs to rats either, the girls will have a go at a rat - but not a stoat, they know they will lose. Apparently the shits just kill the hen and then only eat the heart. Hence me looking for answers on stoat killing (without using a car @Hooroo ).

  • @Snowy you do realise that once you eradicate all the rats, rabbits and stoats around your property your beloved moggy will have to target the birdlife?

  • @Crucial We will never kill off all of the rabbits. Thousands of them on surrounding farmland and they are his favourite. Really want to get rid of the stoats mostly.

  • @Crucial Got me thinking now (not always a good thing).Weren't mustelids introduced in the late 1800's to get rid of the rabbits? Thought that was why they were in NZ. That worked about as well as cane toads in Aus.

    Are there any examples of biological pest control that have worked and not just introduced a new pest?

  • @Snowy nah no palms, they live in flax bushes.

    I had 3 mice in my traps yesterday, but we don't have a problem that we see any of these pests, and as we have a new build on a concrete slab there is only one place anything can get in and an adult rat wouldn't fit.

  • @Snowy I can't recall the pest it is being introduced to deal with, but NRC have been granted consent to introduce some wasp to deal with another pest.

    Edit Just googled it, and is 2 insects to deal with an invasive plant.

  • @taniwharugby Hmmm. Wasps (German and common) were a great introduction the first time...(although accidental not biological control I think).

    This reed may be a problem but maybe creating another unforeseen one.

  • @Snowy yeah doesn't sound great, as far as I am concerned, wasps don't serve any purpose on this earth!

  • Massive history of biological controls causing issues or just not doing the job:
    Cane toads
    Koi carp
    Myxomatosis (sp?)
    Calici virus

  • @booboo Yep. Know of any success stories?

  • Nah. I think there just isn't enough known about how a new species will adapt and be adapted. Too many unknowns and the law of unintended consequences.

  • @booboo said in Mustelids and possums:

    Nah. I think there just isn't enough known about how a new species will adapt and be adapted. Too many unknowns and the law of unintended consequences.

    you sound like you're running in the state election for One Nation

  • Faark off @mariner4life

    I'm not talking climate change.

    My point about to many unknowns was based was based on faintly remembered memories about the introduction of calicivirus.

    Farmers just wanted it lobbed in as soon as possible.

    Scientists wanted to hold off until they knew more and could maximise the effect.

    Was introduced unofficially and randomly and after initial decline we now have just as many bunnies but they're resistant.

    Koi carp were meant go be the shit when they were introduced.

  • @booboo What were Koi introduced to do?

  • @Hooroo said in Mustelids and possums:

    @booboo What were Koi introduced to do?

    Eat weeds IIRC.

  • problem with introduced species is that while they might like eating this invasive weed/pest in their homeland, they will just as easily find some native plant/insect to eat wasps are cnuts!

  • I maybe wrong about the koi carp. Goigle suggests they aee mainly escapees.

    I'm certain i recall some sort of carp introduced to the waterways in the Hauraki Plains which backfired. I thought it was koi.

  • @Snowy

    Monarch Butterfly, introduced to eat milk weed. Eats milk weed. Don't think it does anything bad...

  • I know that foxes were primarily introduced to Australia for hunting but it was also thought they would keep rabbits under control. Instead the booming rabbit numbers just meant more food for foxes and massive breeding.


    IF HUMAN beings could have conversations with animals, many a conservationist would bring up the subject of invasive plants. “Try this one,” they would plead with their fauna. “It’s new, it may take some getting used to, but it’s nutritious. And it really, really needs a natural enemy around here.”

    Such a meeting of minds has taken place, after a fashion, in Hungary. The animals in question are rabbits. A group of biologists led by Vilmos Altbäcker of Kaposvar University have persuaded these lagomorphs to add common milkweed to their diet.

    Milkweeds are native to North America, and famous there as host of the caterpillars of the monarch butterfly. Elsewhere, though, they can be pests, for they are poisonous to many grazing animals, notably cattle, sheep and horses. But not to rabbits, at least not the common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, that has been overwhelming Kiskunsag National Park in Hungary. When confined to cages, and offered little other food, rabbits will eat it and thrive.

    That is a far cry from persuading wild rabbits of milkweed’s virtues. But Dr Altbäcker thought this could be done, based on an earlier discovery of his—that the rabbits of Kiskunsag have dietary traditions. In one corner of the park, for instance, their favourite winter food is juniper. In another part, by contrast, they shun that plant. Experiments he conducted with transplanted junipers proved the difference was not in the food. Rather, it was a matter of the local rabbits’ culinary preferences.

    Persuading animals to acquire a taste for a previously shunned plant is not unprecedented. Some farmers train their livestock to eat certain weeds as well as grass, and calves will even pick up the habit from the example of their elders. Dr Altbäcker’s goal, though, was to perform this feat with a species in the wild, where such cultural transmission is much harder to engineer—particularly because rabbit kittens leave the nest as soon as they are weaned, and thereafter fend for themselves, giving them little chance to learn by example.

    But observing their mothers is not the only way that kittens might learn what to eat. The chemistry of the milk they are drinking might give them clues, as might the edible faecal pellets all rabbits produce as a way of digesting their fibrous vegetable food twice. And Dr Altbäcker did indeed establish that both milk and pellets from rabbits which had consumed milkweed would cause the next generation to prefer that plant to regular laboratory food.

    This still left one obstacle to milkweed’s introduction into rabbit cuisine. Young rabbits are born in winter and early spring, whereas milkweed plants do not pop up until May. On the face of things, milkweed molecules thus have no way to get into rabbits’ milk and edible faeces in the wild. But Dr Altbäcker backed a hunch that such molecules might hang around in a mother’s body long enough (perhaps stored in her fat) to carry a message from the previous season. He therefore tested the preferences of kittens born to mothers taken off milkweed three months beforehand (long enough to mimic the time between the end of the milkweed’s growing season and the beginning of the rabbits’ breeding season) and found that although these youngsters were not quite as happy to consume milkweed as those in the earlier experiment, they liked it better than control litters did.

    The next step would thus seem to be to introduce milkweed-primed rabbits into Kiskunsag and see what happens. Unfortunately, says Dr Altbäcker, Kiskunsag’s management is not minded to accept an addition to the park’s rabbit population. It may even have a point. In Hungary, rabbits are themselves an invasive species, brought from Iberia in Roman times. Why take the chance of introducing a souped-up version?

  • @gollum said in Mustelids and possums:


    Monarch Butterfly, introduced to eat milk weed. Eats milk weed. Don't think it does anything bad...

    The monarch is considered a native because it was self introduced it seems, not a biological control, but it's actually quite funny. We have loads of milkweed / swan plant around here which nobody will remove because they want to keep the monarchs. People were even buying the plants to support the monarch population - so for different reasons that hasn't really worked to remove the plants.

    Paper wasps eat monarch caterpillars apparently which means we also have heaps of wasps. So the monarchs are inadvertently supporting a pest.

  • @Snowy

    Pretty sure every kid of my generation had to grow them at school at some stage. It was pretty cool.

  • @Snowy when we moved into our current place, planted swan plants for monarchs, first 2 years, plants couldn't keep up with caterpillars, now we have bigger single plants and hardly any caterpillars.

    I thought the monarch caterpillar was poisonous....but wasps are cnuts so maybe they are suicide wasps. I have had a couple of battles with decent sized wasp nests at my old place

  • @gollum Yeah we grew them at school as well to learn the life cycle. More interesting than watching a bloody mosquito's metamorphosis.

    @taniwharugby They are poisonous as they absorb some of the toxin from the swan plant but (as in Gollum's article above) only to some species. Unfortunately the paper wasp must be immune (and yes wasps are cnuts).

    Have learnt quite a lot about monarchs lately as I'm not allowed to pull swan plant out of the garden at certain times if it will hurt the butterflies / caterpillars.

  • @Snowy I won my battles with the wasp nests, but they got in a few good shots, and by fuck it felt felt like I'd been hit round the ankle by the cane when 3 stung me at the same time.

    1 nest was in the ground, about 40cm deep, 30 wide and 20 high...stuffed a coke bottle half full of petrol in and left it...more effective than burning it but much less fun.

    I dunno how we had never been stung or noticed it as it was a part we walked past pretty much daily.

  • Looks like grass carp, which may have benn the source of my confusion re koi, are a bit of a success as they don't breed particularly well in NZ and can be contained with the right fish passage measures:

  • @taniwharugby The stings certainly bloody hurt. I copped one a few days ago and wife had to get an ambulance a year or so ago with anaphylatic shock after a few stings.

    A neighbour used your nest eradication method but did set it on fire - along with about half an acre of hillside. Quite spectacular, but he doesn't have anymore wasps.

    @booboo So it seems there has been one bio control introduction due to them being very fussy about reproduction. QI about what they will eat depending on temperature as well.

  • Back to the original question, my father out up an A24. Hasn't had a lot of success, but but sure if that's because of a lack of pests or it just not working well. Probably the former

  • @nzzp Thanks.Hopefully they are all that they are made out to be and your Dad just lives in a pristine environment.

    When I set one up around here I expect to have a huge pile of rat and stoat corpses under it within a few minutes. I will probably have to sit next to it so that I can take them all away in wheel barrow.

  • @taniwharugby said in Mustelids and possums:

    I hate wasps. More wasps would be horrible.
    Wouldn't it be better for the govt. to set aside funds, to be paid back to people who bring in this weed? By weight. Extra pocket money for kids. They have to cut it off at the bottom and spray a weedkiller on that, take a photo of each one.
    Something like that?

  • @Snowy How did you get on with your trapping programme?

    I've got at least a couple of bait shy rats living in the ceiling and need to find a new way of taking them out. Saw those Good Nature traps in Farmlands a couple of days ago and was reminded of this thread.

    Do they work?

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