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Helping a Bushy-tailed Woodrat (packrat) move out. September 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bisonquest @ 3:31 pm

Fall is a time of dispersal for many of our local wildlife neighbors.  So it came as no surprise when we started catching bushy-tailed woodrats (commonly known as packrats) in our live traps that we had set in the cook tent.  We knew we were getting visitors checking out the kitchen.  While we weren’t sure of the identity of some of them (though we have a better idea now – more about that in another post), others were leaving very definite “calling cards”.  Now, first let me make it clear that the packrat is adorable.  I don’t mean in a “mousy” sort of way, I mean in a “big eyes and round ears and fluffy tail” sort of way.  They register high on the cuteness scale.  And, as one guest was surprised to learn, “packrat” is not  just a made up name for people who collect things – it came from this furry critter, who will pack away anything they can get their adorable little mitts on.   But they have one overriding attribute that makes them an obnoxious tenant (aside from the fact that they make nests under the stove, run off with any item you didn’t nail down, chew holes in towels and potholders, and leave brown “pellets” everywhere).  They stink.  I don’t mean a mild, slight mousy odor.  I mean an acrid, sharp, and lingering odor that permeates anything associated with them.  That smell is absolutely and unequivocally not something you can live with.  So, as good neighbors do, we assisted our packrat family in relocating.

Packrat relocation 101: The move

Packrat relocation 101: The move

Checking out the neighborhood.

Checking out the neighborhood.

Settling in (more like skedaddling, actually)

Settling in (more like skedaddling, actually)

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5 Responses to “Helping a Bushy-tailed Woodrat (packrat) move out.”

  1. Kelli Faram Says:

    How adorable!

  2. Tammie Says:

    Hello, I am trying to trap a bushy tailed critter like this. It is not going for the live trap at all. But it’s tail did get caught in a rat trap. So I do believe it is a bushy tailed pack rat. I have to get it out of my ceiling! Do you have any advice for me?

  3. Karen Says:

    OK, I have to ask. Are these creatures really a rat? This looks more chipmunk-like than rat-like, except for the coat. I guess chipmunks don’t smell so bad either, but then neither do rats in the pet shops.

  4. bisonquest Says:

    Tammie,

    Normally, pack rat habitat is crevices in rock outcrops where they construct nests made of sticks, bones, prickly pear cactus lobes and other items. In years of good reproduction and survival there are many dispersing pack rats looking for a place to build a nest. Unfortunately, homes are a good substitute for rock out crops. They also like engine compartments of vehicles, and they seem to be good at chewing on spark plug cables. The good news is that pack rats are relatively easy to catch. We generally use a Tomahawk live trap (about 6x6x18 inches with a single door). I bait the trap with a piece of bread. When you release a pack rat from a live trap be sure to take it 50 or more yards from your vehicle otherwise they will beat you back to the vehicle and climb up into little hiding spots in the engine compartment. Pack rats can also be caught with a rat-sized snap trap. Bait the treadle with a mixture of peanut butter and rolled oats. It is best to place the trap perpendicular to a wall. I usually set out a few snap traps to increase the chances of success. This method will kill the pack rat. Hope this helps – good luck with the pack rat removal.

    Craig

    P.S. I enjoyed your beautiful fall photos. All our aspen leaves froze in early October and never turned yellow.

  5. Judy Betcher Says:

    Their odor is distinctiely disgusting. They’re finding their way into our 100 year old mountain cabin. No sooner do we plug up one hole but they create another one. Ongoing battle of the 65 years my family has owned the place.We can ultimately trap them but the smell in the meantime is putrid. Does one just spray the Fabreeze in the air or what?


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