What is eating my roses?

I have some type of critter problem. I live in Southern California,in a suburban area about 6 miles from the coast, near but not on a canyon, and I have a fenced yard. Last summer something was gnawing my peppers and eggplants-never saw what it was, and the amount of damage was no big deal.
But now (I'm assuming its the same critter) this thing is decimating my roses. It clips off the new growth, right where it is budding. It always happens at night and whatever it is is very quiet. I've never heard anything.
Last night I put plastic grocery bags over the smaller roses, which discouraged our noctural diner and came out to a completely denuded Don Juan. (Since it is more mature,+ too large to easily cover I thought it was safe-WRONG).
no way is it bugs, it looks like someone went throught with pruners. It is also not a deer, I think we'd notice one in our tiny yard, there is a fence, and this is way too a suburban and area for that. So what could it be? rat? possum? racoon? skunk? bunny? I've never seen any of these guys around here, although I'm sure they are abundant (except possibly the rats). I'm thinking possum.
Any suggestions for dealing with it short of borrowing a terrier? Poisons are out, I don't like the idea and besides the neighbourhood is full of cats, (who are clearly falling down on the job). some nice organic deterrent?
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How high is your fence?
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> How high is your fence?
6 feet on most of it. 4.5 feet for the rest.
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wrote:

Deer drink beer and laugh at 4.5 foot fences. :-) I know it seems unlikely, but around here, the deer are also doing some pretty unlikely stuff.
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I think it would be as likely to be unicorns as deer. You'll have to trust me on this one ;). The "yard" is 30' x 15', and I probably misled you to call my area suburban. Urban is more like it. The 'hood was built in the '50's.
So its hard to imaging that a deer could silently leap the fence 15 feet from the window, and nibble just the roses, without making any noise, trampling anything else, without eating anything else, and without leaving hoofprints. the bite marks last year on the eggplants were little critter sized.
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wrote:

Whatever it is, here's a tip from a friend of mine who had something eating pretty much everything. Go get some Irish Spring bar soap and some knee-high stockings. Grate the soap with a cheese grater, using the large holes like you'd use for soft cheese like mozzarella. Put the shredded soap in the knee-highs and hang around the garden. Some animals hate the smell.
Your only other option, besides improving your fencing, is to stay up all night with a BB gun.
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IMHO, it sounds like rabbits. Try growing marigolds, the rabbits where my parents live in Kansas City hate the taste/smell of them and leave Dad's roses alone when he grows marigolds around them. Murri
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Thanks Murri and Doug. I seem to be winning the war of the roses. I still don't know who the culprit is. However, since there are alluring plants right next to the house that never seem to be touched, I figured that the rose eater might be shy. So I rigged up some flood lights on the rose bed 3 nights ago. Voila. no nibbling since. I think I'll add some marigolds too.
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Hey....if it's rabbits, the garden goddesses are offering a bonus. Borrow a Havahart trap, and when it works, break out the garlic, olive oil & lemon. Rabbit is yummy!
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