Wild Rodent Pests and Young Moringa Tree Nursery

Hello all,

Located in West Africa and I’m not sure what the actual species of pest is, but is may be a Gambian pouched rat - Wikipedia. They are described as being cunning and stories are told of them stealing peoples valuables in their houses and hiding them. Locals say they come out at night, especially when its raining hard during the rainy season.

They have systematically and exclusively been destroying our moringa. They don’t touch anything else. Last year we planted 4 month old trees in a field and one by one the stems were chomped to the root and teeth marks could be seen on the shallow part of the tap root. More than 90% died.

We have just under 300 in a nursery currently that germinated only a couple weeks ago. Over 50 have been pulled out during the night. They however were not chomped or damaged other than being pulled out. The animal shows no interest in the seeds. The plan was to raise these in the nursery for at least a year before planting them out, now we’re struggling to just do that.

Looking for any suggestions/ideas for the nursery/transplanting and if you know the scientific name or English name of the animal that might help. A local suggested using old tin roofing pieces when transplanting young saplings and burying it at least 10cm in depth and placing these around the base of the tree. He said doing it with chicken wire likely wouldn’t work because they would still be able to see the trees. I’d rather not have to do this, but am not seeing any other solution. Mature moringa trees grow without this issue, but could also be because most of those are in people’s yards with lots of regular human traffic. Our nursery is currently surrounded by chicken wire and our nurserymen thinks they are climbing over it (3-4ft).

Here are the resources I’ve already found:

Didn’t buy this, but depending on how long this goes on, it may be worth it.

Hi Tyler,

I work as a research scientist at ECHO. This is not my area of expertise, but I did some research to find why Gambian pouched rats would be attracted to your young moringa trees.

I could only find one paper. In 2010, the USDA published a paper to identify smells that would attract the Gambian rats so they could lure them to traps/poisons. In the paper they noted, “We found that a conspecific scent (i.e., feces and urine) from other Gambian rats was the most attractive, but also peanut butter, anise, ginger, and fatty acid scent seemed to attract Gambian rats.”.

Moringa trees are so beneficial to humans because they contain so many fatty acids. The leaves and particularly the seeds contain fatty acids. A couple of papers state some species of moringa roots can also have a pungent spell. We may not smell this biochemistry, but rats may be able to smell it.

If Gambian rats are the pest for your Moringa trees. They may just like the smell. They may not actually be interested in eating the seeds. Again, I am just guessing here.

Maybe spraying garlic or vinegar near your young trees to mask the moringa root/seed smell may work. Until the tree are large enough so the rats cannot pull them up. I attached a copy of the USDA paper below. I hope this helps. If not I am sure that someone in the ECHO Community may have more insight on the matter.


USDA Wildflife Paper.pdf (1.1 MB)

1 Like

I have managed a number of commercial orchards and as a Michigan State University Extension Agent, I worked a lot with repelling or poisoning pests or made recommendations. We used to buy commercial bait and put it out and we put it in tubes or under something so that it did not break down in the elements. This Gambian rat is very large so the tube idea will just limit its ability to get at the poison but putting it under something will still allow the rat to get at it and partially preserve it from the elements. This article has not yet been referenced and it is one of ECHO’s own: Gliricidia sepium for Rat Control: A Recipe | ECHOcommunity.org Gliricidia bark ground soaked in water with maize or the leaves fermented. Annona species seeds ground up are very poisonous and you can make an extract or ground up fine enough and mix with a food source. Or you can paint the young trees with a natural or commercial poison by mixing latex paint and poison as a more sure proof way of saving all your trees. It is very easy to do very quickly if you have a sponge and rubber glove. You can cover a large area in a few minutes with a sponge applying the paint and poison or taste deterrent. There are a lot of plants that have some very nasty poisonous white latex that might work when mixed with paint. Those are the plants that grazing animals never touch.