Vertebrates and Their Damage
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- Bark girdling and burrows
- Sprinkler damage
- Chewed fruit
- Pocket gopher mounds
- Vole runways
- Fecal droppings
Look regularly in and around groves for vertebrate pests and
their damage. Look especially for ground squirrels, pocket gophers,
rabbits, and roof rats. Record the date and location of problem
spots, such as by marking a map of the grove,
using colored flagging or spray paint in the grove, or by using
a hand-held GPS (global positioning system).
Names link to more information on identification and management.
Click on photos to enlarge
Bark girdling and burrows
Identification tip: California ground squirrels can chew
bark and cambium virtually anywhere on trunks and limbs.
Their burrow entrances (shown here) are open and about
4 inches in diameter, but can vary considerably. Pocket
gopher girdling is usually hidden below ground. Rabbit
chewing occurs within 2 feet of the ground. Voles gnaw
no higher than about 2 inches above ground.
Coyotes, gophers, and ground squirrels most commonly
cause gnawed, leaky irrigation lines and emitters.
Dogs, rabbits, and sometimes other vertebrates also
chew irrigation systems.
Identification tip: Roof rats chewed this fruit.
Opossums, raccoons, tree squirrels, and occasionally
ground squirrels or other vertebrates also chew fruit. The
location and extent of chewed fruit and pattern of
teeth marks help to distinguish the damaging pest species.
Pocket gopher mounds
Identification tip: A pocket gopher infestations
is evidenced by loose mounds of soil, sometimes in
the shape of shallow volcanoes, but with no distinct
opening. Gophers themselves are rarely seen above
ground. When only tunnels are
seen, determine whether digging may be due to moles.
Moles feed mostly on insects and earthworms and do
not damage citrus.
Vole (meadow mouse) runways
Identification tip: Trails of eaten vegetation and
shallowly mounded thatch in grassy weeds and ground
covers are evidence of voles.
Identification tip: The size, shape, and abundance
of excrement droppings help you to identify the vertebrate
species in your grove. Rabbits scatter coarse, circular
fecal pellets. These jackrabbit pellets are each about
1/2-inch in diameter. Cottontail pellets average about
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