It would seem that I need to apologize to my tomato plants for insulting their sexuality. It has come to my attention that my lack of red tomatoes is not due to their lack of reproductive vigor, but rather a thief.
There is a tomato thief in my garden bed. I know what you are thinking. Here Hanna goes on a deer rant but, unfortunately, this time I cannot blame the long legged rats for this catastrophe. To be very frank, if it were deer, I would be missing tomato plants rather than just tomato fruit.
Nope, this thief is smaller, craftier and has thumbs. How do I know this? Because the tomatoes had been picked off the plant and the vines were undamaged. A feat that would require the perp to be able to grasp and pull the fruit. Anything remotely ripe was eaten. Anything green had a little bite taken out of it and was then thrown to the ground in apparent disgust. Oh, and the theft only occurs to a height of 3 feet.
Since we lack any monkeys, apes or gorillas roaming wild in this part of Cleveland (though often my children are mistaken for ones), I must turn my attention to the more native species of the area.
My first thought was raccoon. These shrewd critters long ago had their agents make a sweet deal with Disney that helped portray them as cute, cuddly and adorable. Fact of the matter is, the things would as soon eat Pocahontas’ face off as dance around the forest. They are not cute, they are not nice. They can be lethal on many levels. They are wild animals, not stuffed animals.
I promptly called animal control and was told I could have a cage to catch it with… in about 3 weeks… if I was lucky. And by lucky, they meant that it did not enter my house and make its home in the walls. For understandable reasons, people with raccoons in their home get precedent over people with them in their garden.
Then I went home to do my research. What is the best way to lure a raccoon. My first thought was to bait the trap with a tomato. After all, that is why the bugger was in my garden in the first place. And that is when I discovered a really important fact. Apparently raccoons are not so fond of tomatoes AND that damage like this is normally done by another vile critter. Opossums.
Yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck. Nasty beasties they is. I am fairly certain that ROUS’s were modeled not after actual rats but rather opossums. These freakish marsupials are immune to most snake venom and resistant to rabies. And, they have more teeth than any other land mammal. They are just scary.
So, it’s off to catch a tomato thief.
Night #1 – I baited the trap with… what else… a tomato. Yes, a store bought tomato, but I was kind of hoping that tomatoes were to opossums what chocolate is to me. “Ok, so it’s crappy chocolate, but it’s still chocolate.â€
Results — Nada. Well, except for more tomatoes pulled off the plants.
Night #2 — I moved onto peanut butter. There is no force in the ‘verse greater than peanut butter.
Results – The wily, wily critter went into the cage, scooped out a handful of peanut butter and did not trigger the trap. *grrr*
And, on top of that a rather cuddly squirrel tripped the trap after I checked in the morning. It must have been in there for an hour. By the time I found it, it had bashed its nose good while trying to escape. I go out to find a bloody nosed squirrel glaring at me. I let it go. Let me tell you, I can now recite a few choice not nice words in squirrelese.
Night #3 – More peanut butter. Obviously it worked, just have to make it work better.
Results – Well, we will see. Tonight is night 3. With any luck (and not the kind that keeps raccoons out of your house), in the morning, I will have caught myself a tomato thief.
UPDATE – No kidding, just as I hit publish on this post, I heard a snap and a high shrill chripping. I caught my tomato thief!Â And it was… drumroll… a raccoon!Â Apparently they are not as nearly opposed to tomatoes as the internet would lead you to believe. In the AM,I will have my little thief relocated (not killed,even I have a heart)Â to a new, not tomato growing area. I promise to post photos before he goes.