Have you ever seen a lemon hanging from a lemon tree with its rind completely removed and the fruit within completely intact? Though it does sound peculiar, this does actually happen. If you own a lemon tree, you may even have come across this phenomenon before. It can be quite distressing to go outside to pick a lemon only to find that someone—or something—has taken the liberty of peeling them for you. In Australian gardens, lemons and other citrus fruits are enjoyed by possums, flying foxes, snails, mice and rats.
So, Who's the Culprit?
Of all of these common garden pests, the most likely culprits are rats. Why is that? Well, for one thing, snails are too slow to peel an entire rind from a lemon without being noticed. Possums are much too big; bigger than rats, to peel a lemon rind without knocking the lemon to the ground. Flying foxes too can be ruled out because they prefer to feast on nectar, pollen, blossoms, and fruits such as lilly pillies. That leaves mice and rats. Mice, however, tend to avoid highly acidic fruits like lemons and oranges as the toxicity levels can cause havoc with their tiny digestive systems.
That means your likely culprits are roof rats, also known as Norway rats, or black rats.
Rats Produce Their Own Vitamin C, so Why Eat Lemons?
Like other mammals, rats produce their own supply of vitamin C. This is why it is confusing that they might strip the rind from a lemon. You see, lemon rinds actually contain more vitamin C than the flesh itself. But if rats don't require vitamin C because they produce it themselves, then why are they are they stripping lemons of their rinds?
The answer may lie in several studies.
Studies May Have the Answer
Lemon rind doesn't just contain vitamin C. It contains a number of antioxidants that are known as flavonoids. Flavonoids can be found in many types of fruits but are particularly abundant in citrus fruits, like lemons. Are rats peeling your lemons to take advantage of these antioxidants? In a study conducted in 1998, researchers discovered that the lemon flavonoids, eriocitrin and hesperidin reduced the oxidative stress in rats with diabetes. These same flavonoids have been shown to significantly reduce cholesterol in hamsters, which happen to be related to rats. This could be a hereditary habit passed on from their ancestors, just as that of birds which swallow stones to help them digest seeds and dogs that eat grass even though it doesn't seem to benefit them in any way.
However, knowing what is eating your lemons doesn't solve the issue. If you keep finding your lemons hanging with their rinds peeled off, try filling several stockings with old dog hair, and then hang them from the branches of your lemon tree to deter rats. There may also be a family of rats that has taken up residence nearby. Call in a pest control service to eradicate the problem if your lemons and other fruits are under constant attack from rats.
Breakfast is the first meal of the day, one that should set you up for several hours of active, busy life. Nothing turns a breakfast bad like picking up your coffee mug, or a plate, and having a critter skitter out from underneath! Ants, cockroaches and more do their best to work their way into our homes, where they aren't welcome and don't belong. Sometimes ant traps and insect bait are enough, but if you ignore the problem it can quickly escalate to where you'll need professional pest control to get rid of your unwanted guests. Professional pest control can provide a wide range of rates and service, and are worth calling.