DEAR JOAN: Any suggestions on how to get rid of gophers and rats from my garden and yard?
In my garden, I have raised beds 2 feet high with heavy wire underneath. I was hoping the gophers couldn't get through it, but they are. Is it possible they could climb over the top?
Now I find I also have rats in the garden and other places in my yard. They are going underground and digging tunnels. I know they can climb over the top, but how do I get rid of them safely?
I don't want to harm my dogs or any other wildlife. I've thought about galvanized water troughs. I've seen them with flowers, but is it safe to grow vegetables in them?
DEAR R.: Gophers can be both destructive and annoying, making living with them in harmony a bit trying.
The mesh under your beds should keep them from tunneling up, but the openings in the wire need to be no larger than 1 inch. Chicken wire won't stop them.
Gophers come out of their holes at night and walk along the ground, which is likely how they are getting into your beds. You can try protecting your plants by enclosing them in mesh cages. Shock wires that give them a harmless jolt if they try to climb over a fence can be effective. You also can try chemical repellents, although their success is hit and miss.
The tunnels you see could be rats. They tend to dig into the ground to make nests, and don't really do a lot of tunneling. You could have something else going on there. But anything you use against gophers can be used against rats.
Galvanized watering troughs will stop things from burrowing into the garden, but it won't stop them from climbing over.
You can help matters by removing anything that encourages the rats to visit your house -- the gophers need no encouragement. Don't leave out pet food, make sure the garbage is secure, take in the bird feeders for a while, seal off places where they might nest, and remove areas such as ivy or piles of wood where they might live.
Because gophers and rats are considered pests, some people advocate killing them.
If you are so inclined, please use a humane trap and not poisons, which put the animal through intense pain and can be accidentally spread to other wildlife, pets and humans.
DEAR JOAN: I am amazed that nobody has told you about Botanic Gold (www.botanic-gold.com) for removing skunk odor.
This stuff is truly amazing. Our golden got hit by a skunk, and I used this soap to clean him up. Just sprayed it on and washed it off.
DEAR STEVEN: Thanks for the tip. I hope I never need to use it.
Looking for Bruiser
The producer of STARS 2000 Teen Theatre Company, a semiprofessional teen company of the Diablo Theatre Company, is searching for a talented, handsome Chihuahua to play Bruiser in an upcoming production of "Legally Blonde."
If you have a Chihuahua, tan in color, who is trained or trainable, contact producer Diane Kamrin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rehearsals start in June, and the show opens at the end of July for a two-week run. The dog would be needed for some rehearsals and for the show. The company can't pay for the dog's services, but there is a lot of love and treats to be earned.
The production also is looking for a bulldog to make an appearance at the end of the show.
Contact Joan Morris at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.