Meyer Lemon – Rat Damage

Q: My Meyer lemon trees remain outside all summer, but were brought into my greenhouse to avoid freeze damage. After the move inside for the winter, I went to water the trees and noticed several lemons on the floor and the bench, with the peels neatly removed and droppings left behind. Apparently the peels were eaten.

I keep the doors to the greenhouse closed, but there is a broken pane in the roof through which an acrobatic critter might gain access.

A: When I saw your picture, I was at first totally puzzled.

What animal would eat the peel but not the interior fruit of a Meyer lemon?? I went to my personal lemon plant and removed a piece of peel to see what it tasted like.

Glory be! The taste of the peel is as mild as that of a sweet orange!

If you have ever tasted the fruit of a Meyer lemon, you know how tongue-twistingly sour it is. Now I can understand why a critter would eat the peel and not the fruit.

The droppings near the fruit give us the biggest clue to who the culprit is.

It’s a rat.

Rats have droppings that are oblong and generally a single color (as opposed to lizard droppings, which are two-toned).

Interestingly, the phenomenon of the “peeled lemon” is not new. I found a lengthy discussion online where some respondents blamed snails and others blamed rats. I think the droppings make clear who did the damage in your greenhouse.

Read more here.

  • Advertisement