Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Romantic Box Turtles, Peanut Butter Fence, and Lion Poo


A pair of eastern box turtles mating in a backyard habitat. Photo: Christy Frederic.

Romantic Box Turtles

Earlier in April, AHA shared, via email and Facebook, a link to enable gardeners to become Certified Wildlife Habitats (CWH) with their backyards. Christy of Pineville positively responded, “[My backyard has] been certified 20 years or more, Habitat # XX96.” She also shared how she certified her employer’s grounds as a CWH before her retirement.

Then she shared a picture of wildlife activity in her backyard habitat and made this observation, “Speaking of wildlife, saw [I] these eastern box turtles… when planning to work on the new waterfall on the frog pond. Pond could wait so as not to disturb them. Sadly, these are among many native species in serious decline.”

Christy’s amorous box turtles indicate that she is successful in creating desirable habitat and in attracting animals. Here is a link to learn more about creating backyard habitat and then having it certified by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation: .

A basic design of a peanut butter fence. Drawing: Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Peanut Butter Fence

While Christy is nurturing an attractive habitat for wildlife and enjoying the results, George is frustrated with wildlife, “I am in the process of trying deterrents- predator imitating red blinking lights, flood motion lights, and a highly recommended scent repellent. Staying up at night with a rifle is option, but first I am going to try these deterrents. I was immediately ticked off at the deer after losing 15 feet of green beans.”

A search for “deer repellents” on the AgCenter resulted in an article about deer-resistant plants. However, AHA found several strategies to repel deer from both extension and state wildlife agencies websites. The University of Missouri Extension presented many options to keep deer from the crops. One is called the “peanut butter fence” (PBF).

Robert A. Pierce II, a wildlife biologist with Missouri Extension, conveys these points about the PBF, “The peanut butter fence has been shown to be an effective and inexpensive fence design in a number of field conditions. It is best used for gardens, nurseries, orchards and field crops that are subject to moderate deer pressure.

A single strand of 17-gauge wire is suspended about 30 inches above the ground by 4-foot fiberglass rods at 30- to 60-foot intervals. Wood corner posts provide support. Aluminum foil "flags" (foil squares 4 inches by 4 inches folded over the wire) are attached to the wire at 20- to 50-foot intervals using tape or paper clips to hold them in place. Aluminum flashing can also be used and has the advantage of not being damaged or blown off. Closer spacing may be necessary near existing deer trails and during the first few months the fence is used, when deer behavior is being modified. The underside of the flags is baited with a 1-to-1 mixture of peanut butter and vegetable oil. The smell attracts the deer, which touch or sniff the flags and receive an electric shock. The flags should be rebaited every four to eight weeks, depending on weather conditions.”

George’s problem with deer foraging in his garden reminded AHA of a conversation with a local watermelon grower. This grower typically grows ten to fifteen acres of watermelons for local markets. His solution for repelling deer is lion manure. He obtains a five-gallon bucket of lion manure from the Alexandria Zoo. He then places the manure at measured intervals on the perimeter of his field to discourage deer, and he claims he has used this method successfully for years. The premise of his method is bizarre, but it makes sense because the deer think there is a large predator nearby and avoids the site. For more information about the local availability of lion manure, here is the email address for the Alexandria Zoo: .

425_fig_3_lion_poojpgA container of lion manure available online for repelling nuisance animals. Photo:

Lion Poo

AHA then considered the idea of home delivery of lion manure. Yes, has “Lion Poo”, and the label on the container indicates fourteen ounces. The contents are composted manure, and it can be shipped to gardeners.

Another search of zoo merchandise reveals that zoos across the nation market their animal manures to gardeners to improve fertility. The manure from predatory animals seems to provide protection from nuisance animals. If any reader tries lion manure for keeping unwanted animals from gardens, please share your experience, either positive or negative, with RSFF.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

4/24/2020 4:07:27 PM
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