My parents have moved out to the country and are trying to prepare a group of pots to flower in the spring.

They planted bulbs in pots about 2 weeks ago but suddenly for 3 nights in a row rats are getting into and digging up/eating the bulbs out of the pots.

Any suggestions of ways to protect the bulbs? Will rats chew through chicken wire?

  • Yes, they will, very easily , but how sure are you its rats, because its usually squirrels that do this? What bulbs are they? – Bamboo Nov 30 '19 at 11:34
  • Pretty sure it’s rats, where they have moved to is largely farmers fields and no sign of squirrels during the summer at all where as they have been watching the wildlife from there window they see rats climbing up the bird feeders etc they have put out. – Richard C Nov 30 '19 at 11:39
  • They have bought some heavy duty mesh to try covering the pots with see if it works. – Richard C Nov 30 '19 at 11:39
  • I hope it does, but if its crocus in the pots and its squirrels, they love to eat those, but aren't interested in daffodil bulbs cos they;re toxic (applies to rats too). I did once wire my old fridge racks to the top of the pots, that worked, but only firmly wired in place with heavy duty plastic coated wire - fridge racks with bricks on were dislodged overnight. – Bamboo Nov 30 '19 at 11:41
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    I had a huge problem with squirrels eating bulbs in my garden (they ate about 200 crocus one autumn), so I resolved to not have crocus or species (and other) tulips and have concentrated only on bulbs that the squirrels won't touch - consequently I have a ton of (poisonous) daffodils. This would apply to your rats, as Bamboo noted. Squirrels also leave squills, pushkinia and hyacinths alone, and have not (yet) eaten my newly planted glory of the snow. These may also work for your parents. Sometimes we have to adapt to what nature gives us, rather than always getting what we want. – Jurp Nov 30 '19 at 15:08

Why not try adding Capsacin to the pots or put it on the bulbs before you plant them. The oils don't wash off very easily. It works for squirrels. You normally add it to bird food, because birds don't have taste buds, so it does not burn their tongues like it does to mammals. It has been tested on poultry feed to keep rats away and has been proven to be effective. Using Cayenne Pepper on Tulip Bulbs----- Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce --- and --- Field evaluation of capsaicin as a rodent aversion agent for poultry feed.

Capsaicin is just thing you can try. There are products like Ritter Critter and other that have smell or taste. Some sprays add a chemical call bitrex, it is added to most home cleaning products to keep children from drinking them. According to their website, 'Bitrex is the brand name of the bitterest substance in the world. Responsible manufacturers and retailers add Bitrex to household products as a safety ingredient.' I have seen it in products to keep animals from eating garden plants. It is created not to wash off very easily.

Non-sprays; You can add chicken wire buried just below the surface of the soil. When the squirrel tries to dig into the pot they encounter something they can't dig through. The larger gauge, so the bulbs can get through easily. Instead of burying it, I would add a layer of pumice or scoria (AKA black pumice) on top of the wire. That allows you the flexibility to remove the wire if you need to get in the pot.

You can buy Coyote or Cougar urine, just add some to the pot. Reapply after it rains.


Traditionally, tulips are planted 15 cm (6inch) below ground level which avoids rats. Also, a surface layer of gravel can be used in pots when it is freely available, the holes keep collapsing while being dug. Also, if the rats find edible bulbs hidden in some pots, they will dig up all the other pots too.

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